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Bimodality and alternative equilibria do not help explain long-term patterns in shallow lake chlorophyll-a

Davidson, TA; Sayer, CD; Jeppesen, E; Søndergaard, M; Lauridsen, TL; Johansson, LS; Baker, A; (2023) Bimodality and alternative equilibria do not help explain long-term patterns in shallow lake chlorophyll-a. Nature Communications , 14 , Article 398. 10.1038/s41467-023-36043-9. Green open access

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Abstract

Since its inception, the theory of alternative equilibria in shallow lakes has evolved and been applied to an ever wider range of ecological and socioecological systems. The theory posits the existence of two alternative stable states or equilibria, which in shallow lakes are characterised by either clear water with abundant plants or turbid water where phytoplankton dominate. Here, we used data simulations and real-world data sets from Denmark and north-eastern USA (902 lakes in total) to examine the relationship between shallow lake phytoplankton biomass (chlorophyll-a) and nutrient concentrations across a range of timescales. The data simulations demonstrated that three diagnostic tests could reliably identify the presence or absence of alternative equilibria. The real-world data accorded with data simulations where alternative equilibria were absent. Crucially, it was only as the temporal scale of observation increased (>3 years) that a predictable linear relationship between nutrient concentration and chlorophyll-a was evident. Thus, when a longer term perspective is taken, the notion of alternative equilibria is not required to explain the response of chlorophyll-a to nutrient enrichment which questions the utility of the theory for explaining shallow lake response to, and recovery from, eutrophication.

Type: Article
Title: Bimodality and alternative equilibria do not help explain long-term patterns in shallow lake chlorophyll-a
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-36043-9
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-36043-9
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Chlorophyll A, Lakes, Chlorophyll, Biomass, Phytoplankton, Water, Eutrophication, Phosphorus
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10165290
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