Response of the Cladoceran Community to Trophic State Change in Lake Apopka, Florida

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Cladocera, Eutrophication, Hurricane, Paleolimnology, Phosphorus loading, Restoration, Subfossil remains, Subtropics

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A paleolimnological evaluation of cladoceran microfossils was initiated to study limnological changes in Lake Apopka, a large (125 km2), shallow (mean depth = 1.6 m), warm, polymictic lake in central Florida. The lake switched from macrophyte to algal dominance in the late 1940s, creating a Sediment Discontinuity Layer (SDL) that can be visually used to separate sediments derived from macrophytes and phytoplankton. Cladoceran microfossils were enumerated as a means of corroborating extant eutrophication data from the sediment record. Inferences about the timing and trajectory of eutrophication were made using the cladoceran-based paleo-reconstruction. The cladoceran community of Lake Apopka began to change abruptly in both total abundance and relative percent abundance just before the lake shifted from macrophyte to algal dominance. Alona affinis, a mud-vegetation associated cladoceran, disappeared before the SDL was formed. Planktonic and benthic species also began to increase below the SDL, indicating an increase in production of both planktonic and benthic species. Chydorus cf. sphaericus, an indicator of nutrient loading, increased relative to all other cladocerans beginning in the layer below the SDL and continuing upcore. Changes in the transitional sediment layer formed before the lake switched to phytoplankton dominance, including an increase in total phosphorus concentration, suggest a more gradual eutrophication process than previously reported. Data from this study supported conclusions from other paleolimnological studies that suggested anthropogenic phosphorus loading was the key factor in the hypereutrophication of Lake Apopka.

Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Paleolimnology, v. 27, issue 1, p. 71-77