Eutrophication and Harmful Algae in Aquatic Ecosystems

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Biodiversity and Functionality of Aquatic Ecosystems".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 26 April 2024 | Viewed by 5124

Special Issue Editors

Center for Applied Aquatic Ecology, Department of Applied Ecology, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA
Interests: eutrophication; nutritional ecology; harmful algae; water quality
Horn Point Laboratory, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Cambridge, MD, USA
Interests: nutrients in aquatic systems; eutrophication; algal production, harmful algal blooms; stable isotopes

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Harmful algae are increasing caused by nutrient pollution, warming, and other human-related activities across the globe, but there is still confusion around their chronic impacts and the complexities of their responses to multiple stressors. “Eutrophication and harmful algae” has been the focus of decades of research and is increasingly regarded as a critically important topic in aquatic science.  Recent studies have strengthened basic information. Improved approaches and models to estimate nutrient loads, for example, are beginning to yield more a accurate assessment of chronic impacts that are needed to set more realistic water quality restoration goals. However, many challenges remain, especially surrounding how the synergistic effects of warming, acidification, hypoxia, floods, drought, etc., affect these blooms.

This Special Issue aims to highlight some recent advances in this broad yet compelling topic. Coverage includes new insights on the ecology of harmful algae and their basic impacts on aquatic ecosystems, the synergisms in their toxin effects, models that yield more reliable predictions, and the “science/policy border” in efforts to protect aquatic ecosystems from degradation due to nutrient pollution and harmful algae.

Prof. Dr. JoAnn Burkholder
Prof. Dr. Patricia Glibert
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • climate change
  • harmful algae
  • eutrophication × climate interactions
  • nutrient criteria
  • nitrogen
  • phosphorus
  • nutrient supplies and supply ratios
  • predictive models

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

48 pages, 4804 KiB  
Article
Watershed Development and Eutrophying Potable Source-Water Reservoirs in a Warming Temperate/Subtropical Region
Water 2023, 15(22), 4007; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15224007 - 17 Nov 2023
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Abstract
Reservoirs are increasingly valuable worldwide as potable source waters, yet in many geographic regions, their limnology and trophic status are poorly known. We characterized 14 drinking water reservoirs and their watersheds across the warming temperate/subtropical southeastern USA. Selected reservoirs had at least three [...] Read more.
Reservoirs are increasingly valuable worldwide as potable source waters, yet in many geographic regions, their limnology and trophic status are poorly known. We characterized 14 drinking water reservoirs and their watersheds across the warming temperate/subtropical southeastern USA. Selected reservoirs had at least three years of accessible summer water quality data during 2010–2020, including Secchi depth, nutrients, and algal biomass as chlorophyll a, and depth profiles for temperature and dissolved oxygen. Most watersheds, including lands within a 10-km radius of the reservoirs, had sustained substantial urbanization and/or intensive industrialized animal production, in some cases including the discharge of partially treated human sewage or livestock slaughterhouse wastes near or into the reservoirs. Five reservoirs were assessed as mesotrophic; the others were eutrophic. Most were stratified, but ephemeral near-surface thermoclines were common, and many were too shallow (median depth 5.0 m) to maintain uniform temperatures in the relatively warm hypolimnia. Bottom-water hypoxia/anoxia occurred throughout the summers but, surprisingly, in 8 of 14 reservoirs hypoxia commonly extended to surface waters. In the Southeast as in many regions, drinking water reservoirs are poorly protected and degrading as livestock production and/or urban development increasingly characterize their watersheds. The eutrophication trajectory of these valuable resources should be used as an indicator of ecosystem health and water quality in developing more protective management and policy actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eutrophication and Harmful Algae in Aquatic Ecosystems)
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19 pages, 4420 KiB  
Article
Relationship between Cyanobacterial Abundance and Physicochemical Variables in the Ebro Basin Reservoirs (Spain)
Water 2023, 15(14), 2538; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15142538 - 11 Jul 2023
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Abstract
One of the main problems arising in inland waterbodies is nutrient enrichment that accelerates eutrophication, causing massive cyanobacteria blooms and degrading aquatic ecosystems. This study focused on physical/chemical factors that affect cyanobacteria of 30 reservoirs in the Ebro River basin within the Iberian [...] Read more.
One of the main problems arising in inland waterbodies is nutrient enrichment that accelerates eutrophication, causing massive cyanobacteria blooms and degrading aquatic ecosystems. This study focused on physical/chemical factors that affect cyanobacteria of 30 reservoirs in the Ebro River basin within the Iberian Peninsula of northeastern Spain. The abundance of cyanobacteria was assessed as total cell number, total biovolume, and the indicator pigment, total phycocyanin (PC). In addition, empirical measurements for PC were compared to PC estimated from remote sensing. Variables assessed for correlation with cyanobacteria abundance included temperature, pH, light availability inferred from Secchi depth, water residence time, total nitrogen, dissolved inorganic nitrogen, total phosphorus, soluble reactive phosphorus, silica, and total phytoplankton biomass as chlorophyll a. These variables were also assessed with a multi-statistical principal component analysis for relationships with cyanobacteria abundance. Cyanobacteria cell number and biovolume were positively correlated with temperature, total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and water residence time, and negatively correlated with silica. High PC concentrations were documented in the reservoirs, and satellite images from remote sensing showed the PC spatial distribution and heterogeneity in the reservoirs. The PCA results show that some variables, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, are closely related to the abundance of cyanobacteria, while other variables such as silica do not show a clear relationship. This study contributes to the knowledge base about inland waterbodies from a physical/chemical perspective, which had not been done before in the Ebro Basin, including the application of analytic tools such as remote sensing. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eutrophication and Harmful Algae in Aquatic Ecosystems)
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16 pages, 8647 KiB  
Article
Harmful Algal Blooms: A Prolific Issue in Urban Stormwater Ponds
Water 2023, 15(13), 2436; https://doi.org/10.3390/w15132436 - 01 Jul 2023
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Abstract
Nutrient-driven cyanobacteria blooms are an increasingly common issue in freshwater environments, particularly in anthropogenically altered landscapes. As stormwater runoff is one of the largest sources of nutrients for freshwater bodies, stormwater retention ponds in urban and suburban areas are likely environments for harmful [...] Read more.
Nutrient-driven cyanobacteria blooms are an increasingly common issue in freshwater environments, particularly in anthropogenically altered landscapes. As stormwater runoff is one of the largest sources of nutrients for freshwater bodies, stormwater retention ponds in urban and suburban areas are likely environments for harmful cyanobacteria blooms and were thus targeted for an in-depth investigation assessing taxonomic composition, bloom morphological composition, toxicity, and impact of nutrients and other environmental drivers. Eighty-seven algal blooms were sampled from 2019 to 2022 in the greater Wilmington, North Carolina, area. Physicochemical parameters were recorded, and blooms were classified by type (defined as surface mat, surface scum, water column distribution, or benthic mat) and dominant taxa. Blooms of potentially toxic cyanobacteria genera in the water column of stormwater retention ponds were most prevalent. Dissolved inorganic phosphorus was significantly related to chlorophyll-α, Microcystis bloom formation, and the production of microcystin. Seventeen potentially toxic cyanobacteria genera were identified in retention ponds, some of whose blooms demonstrated detectable microcystin. Monoclonal cultures isolated from some blooms were found to produce anabaenopeptin and saxitoxin. The results demonstrate a higher incidence of potentially toxic cyanobacteria over other bloom-forming taxa (chlorophytes, euglenoids, chrysophytes, dinoflagellates, and diatoms) in the 39 water bodies sampled. The frequency of blooms occurring in stormwater ponds and the diversity of potentially toxic cyanobacteria identified suggest such harmful blooms are likely widespread in similar freshwater environments across multiple urbanizing areas. The blooms sampled in this study were all within residential, commercial, or recreational areas easily accessible to people, presenting serious hazards to both environmental and public health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Eutrophication and Harmful Algae in Aquatic Ecosystems)
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