Zooplankton impacts on chlorophyll and transparency in Onondaga Lake, New York, USA

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Department of Biological Sciences; Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geospatial Engineering


The transparency of polluted, hypereutrophic Onondaga Lake, New York, USA has improved substantially in the late 1980's as a result of reductions in phytoplankton biomass, in the absence of significant reductions in external phosphorus loading. Much of this improvement has been due to the occurrence of clearing events, e.g. sudden and dramatic increases in transparency. Field measurements, laboratory experiments, and modelling analyses were utilized to identify processes regulating phytoplankton standing crop during the spring to fall interval of 1987. Changes in the zooplankton community documented over the past decade support the conclusion that increased zooplankton grazing has contributed to improvements in transparency. Herbivores now represent a greater fraction of the zooplankton population and more efficient cladocerans are present in greater numbers. Biomanipulation practices, e.g. reestablishment of piscivorous species, designed to reduce the abundance of planktivorous fish species in Onondaga Lake, may serve to reduce pressure on the grazing community and thus result in further improvements in transparency.

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© 1990 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02530377

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