Aquatic ecosystems are subject to multiple interacting stressors that obscure regulatory mechanisms and reduce the effectiveness of management strategies. Here we estimate the unique and interactive effects of continental climate systems, regional meteorology, river hydrology, and internal lake characteristics on patterns of landscape-scale water quality in six productive lakes within a 52 000 km2 catchment. We quantify variation in mean summer and monthly algal abundance, surface bloom intensity, water clarity, and density of potentially toxic cyanobacteria during 16 years on the Canadian Prairies. Internal lake characteristics best predicted overall water quality change, while climate systems, regional weather, and river hydrology characterized indirect pathways that influenced physicochemical environments. Scenario analysis of future environmental change predicted that atmospheric warming (3-5 °C) will have the strongest effect on water quality in these productive lakes, but unexpectedly predicted that even severe industrial water extraction (1% of inflow) will have negligible effects on transparency or algal abundance. Instead, nutrient management represents the only practical means to sustain water quality, although atmospheric and lake warming may override re-oligotrophication of eutrophied sites in future decades.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences|
|Early online date||23 Feb 2017|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 2018|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science