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Open AccessArticle

Effects of Exposed Artificial Substrate on the Competition between Phytoplankton and Benthic Algae: Implications for Shallow Lake Restoration

by Hu He 1,*, Xuguang Luo 2, Hui Jin 3, Jiao Gu 1,4, Erik Jeppesen 5,6, Zhengwen Liu 1,6,7 and Kuanyi Li 1,6,*
1
State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
2
College of Animal Science, Inner Mongolia Agricultural University, Huhhot 010018, China
3
School of Environmental and Civil Engineering, Jiangnan University, Wuxi 214122, China
4
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
5
Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, 8600 Aarhus, Denmark
6
Sino-Danish Centre for Education and Research, Beijing 100049, China
7
Department of Ecology and Institute of Hydrobiology, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Miklas Scholz
Water 2017, 9(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9010024
Received: 24 October 2016 / Revised: 22 December 2016 / Accepted: 30 December 2016 / Published: 4 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Lake Restoration and Management in a Climate Change Perspective)
Phytoplankton and benthic algae coexist in shallow lakes and the outcome of the competition between these two photoautotrophs can markedly influence water clarity. It is well established that exposed artificial substrate in eutrophic waters can remove nutrients and fine particles from the water column via the attached periphyton canopy. However, the effects of the introduction of artificial substrate on the competition between planktonic and benthic primary producers remain to be elucidated. We conducted a short-term outdoor mesocosm experiment to test the hypothesis that the nutrient and light changes induced by exposed artificial substrate (polythene nets) would benefit the benthic algae. Artificial substrate significantly reduced total nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations and water clarity improved, the latter due to the substrate-induced reduction of both organic and inorganic suspended solids. Consequently, as judged from changes in chlorophyll a (Chl-a) concentrations in water and sediment, respectively, exposed artificial substrate significantly reduced the phytoplankton biomass, while benthic algae biomass increased. Our results thus indicate that exposed artificial substrate may be used as a tool to re-establish benthic primary production in eutrophic shallow lakes after an external nutrient loading reduction, paving the way for a benthic- or a macrophyte-dominated system. Longer term and larger scale experiments are, however, needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn on this. View Full-Text
Keywords: artificial substrate; phytoplankton; benthic algae; resource competition; shallow lakes artificial substrate; phytoplankton; benthic algae; resource competition; shallow lakes
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He, H.; Luo, X.; Jin, H.; Gu, J.; Jeppesen, E.; Liu, Z.; Li, K. Effects of Exposed Artificial Substrate on the Competition between Phytoplankton and Benthic Algae: Implications for Shallow Lake Restoration. Water 2017, 9, 24.

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