In situ experimental evidence of phosphorus limitation on algal growth in a lake ecosystem

Kwang Guk An, Seok Soon Park

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This paper presents the results of in situ Nutrient Stimulation Experiments (NSEs) demonstrating that phosphorus was the primary nutrient controlling algal growth in the Taechung Reservoir, Korea. Algal response in most treatments with only nitrogen added was less than or the same as in the controls, whereas the growth in treatments enriched with phosphorus increased by as much as fivefold. Phosphorus limitation was consistent over the experimental period when bioassay experiments were conducted, but the magnitude of growth response to phosphorus enrichments varied with the season. Algal yield in P-treatments was maximum when thermal stratification was strong and total dissolved phosphorus (TDP) was near the level of depletion. Regression analyses of NSEs showed that in situ algal response in P treatments, measured as log-transformed CHLf:CHLi ratios, declined (R2=0.995, p < 0.001) with ambient concentrations of log-transformed TDP. Also, algal response in the P treatments showed a first-order linear fit (R2=0.961, p < 0.001) with log-transformed DIN (dissolved inorganic nitrogen): TDP ratios. These outcomes indicate that the magnitude of in situ algal response increased with lower levels of P and higher dissolved N:P ratios in the ambient lake water. Our experimental approach employing NSEs suggests that abatement of phosphorus from the watershed seems to be an efficient management strategy to control the eutrophication of this system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)913-924
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Environmental Science and Health - Part A Toxic/Hazardous Substances and Environmental Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by Korea Ministry of Science and Technology through the National Research program (00-B-WB-06-A-02) for Women’s University.


  • Algal growth
  • Enrichmnet
  • Limitation
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus


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