Does a long-term oscillation in nitrogen concentration reflect climate impact on submerged vegetation and vulnerability to state shifts in a shallow lake?
Förlag: Blackwell Publishing
Various ecosystems, including shallow lakes, are suggested to possess alternative stable state dynamics. The response of such systems to environmental change is non-linear and not fully reversible, which calls for identification of feedback mechanisms and subtle changes connected to structural stability. Here, we used a 25-year data series on water chemistry to make inferences on processes prior to a recent shift from a clear to a turbid state in Lake Takern, Sweden. Before the shift, annual concentration of total organic nitrogen (TON) described a cyclic pattern, with a periodicity of eight years. Annual TON was negatively correlated with the magnitude of a summer decline in calcium carbonate, treated as a proxy of the seasonal production of submerged vegetation. Cross-correlations of TON and the north Atlantic oscillation (NAO) indicated a possible connection to climate. The strongest correlation was obtained by a three-year lag of the NAO index. Using a set of linear time series models, the most parsimonious model was a 3(rd) order autoregressive model with NAO, delayed three years, as a covariate. Analyses of seasonality indicated that the delayed NAO signal was strongly correlated with summer TON. Also, the autocorrelation function was very similar for these two time series, and autoregressive models including NAO as a covariate were strongly supported (sum of Akaike weights = 0.93). These results indicate that climate may have contributed to the regime shift through lowered macrophyte production at the time of the shift, and therefore most likely also a depleted resilience of the clear water state. The delayed effect of climate is suggested to result from indirect and inter-year dependent response of submerged vegetation to fish kills during harsh winters.
- Biological Sciences
- ISSN: 0030-1299