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A multi-proxy trophic state reconstruction for shallow Orange Lake, Florida, USA: Possible influence of macrophytes on limnetic nutrient concentrations.

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Thomas J. Whitmore

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We retrieved four sediment cores from shallow, eutrophic, macrophyte-dominated Orange Lake (A = 51.4 km2, zmax <5 m, zmean < 2 m), north-central Florida, USA. The 210Pb-dated profiles were used to evaluate spatial and temporal patterns of bulk sediment and nutrient accumulation in the limnetic zone and to infer historical changes in lake trophic state. Bulk density, organic matter, total carbon, total nitrogen, total phosphorus and non-apatite inorganic phosphorus (NAIP) concentrations displayed stratigraphic similarities among three of four cores, as did accumulation rates of bulk sediment, organic matter and nutrients. Accumulation rates were slower at the fourth site. Nutrients showed generally increasing rates of accumulation since the turn of the century. Percentages of periphytic diatom taxa increased progressively in the cores after ~ 1930. Diatom-inferred limnetic total P trends were similar among profiles. Eutrophic conditions were inferred for the period prior to the turn of the century. The lake was hypereutrophic in the early decades of the 1900s, but inferred limnetic total P values declined after ~ 1930. Declining inferred limnetic total P trends for the last 60--70 years were accompanied by concomitant increases in accumulation rates of total P and NAIP on the lake bottom. Several lines of evidence suggest that after ~ 1930, phosphorus entering Orange Lake was increasingly utilized by submersed macrophytes. Paleolimnological records from Orange Lake highlight the importance of using multiple sediment variables to infer past trophic state and suggest that aquatic macrophytes can play a role in regulating water-column nutrient concentrations in shallow, warm-temperate lakes.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Journal of Paleolimnology, 21(2), 215-233. doi:10.1023/A:1008079500375. Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.



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