Original paper

Phytoplankton assemblages in high-elevation lakes in the northern Cascade Mountains, Washington State USA

Larson, Gary L.; McIntire, C. David; Truitt, Robert E.; Liss, William J.; Hoffman, Robert; Deimling, Elizabeth; Lomnicky, Gregg

Archiv für Hydrobiologie - Hauptbände Volume 142 Number 1 (1998), p. 71 - 93

29 references

published: Apr 27, 1998

DOI: 10.1127/archiv-hydrobiol/142/1998/71

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ArtNo. ESP141014201005, Price: 29.00 €

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Phytoplankton assemblages in high-elevation lakes of North Cascades National Park Service Complex were studied during the open-water period in 1989. Collectively, 93 taxa were identified in 55 samples from 51 lakes. Based on cell densities, cyanobacteria had the highest relative abundance (36.7 %), followed by chlorophytes (29.8 %), and chrysophytes (19.6 %). Aphanocapsa delicatissima had the highest proportional abundance (14.0 %). Only 15.1 % percent of the taxa occurred in more than 20 samples. Phytoplankton cell densities increased following a gradient of increasing lake-water temperature, alkalinity, and concentration of total Kjeldahl-N with decreasing lake elevation. Chrysophytes and cyanobacteria were quantitatively (relative abundance) the most important taxa in alpine and subalpine lakes, whereas cyanobacteria had the highest relative abundances in high-forest and low-forest lakes. Chlorophytes had their highest relative abundance in high-forest lakes. Although low in relative abundance, diatoms and dinoflagellates were most abundant in alpine lakes. An ordination by correspondence analysis indicated that most alpine, subalpine, and high-forest lakes had similar floras. Although a few subalpine lakes exhibited deviations from this pattern, the main differences in phytoplankton composition were found in a group of low-forest and high-forest lakes. Canonical correspondence analysis (CCA) provided evidence that the distribution of samples and taxa in ordination space was correlated with a gradient of decreasing lake elevation and increasing water temperature, alkalinity, and concentration of nitrogen. When CCA was used to examine relationships among phytoplankton taxa and vegetation zones, a continuous distribution of taxa was found from the low-forest zone to the subalpine zone, with a large number of taxa occurring primarily in the subalpine and high-forest zones. Three phytoplankton taxa occurred primarily in alpine lakes, whereas five taxa co-occurred in alpine, subalpine, and high forest zones. Collectively, lake elevation and associated changes in water quality and concentrations of nutrients, especially nitrogen, appeared to be the primary physical and chemical factors influencing the taxonomic structures of phytoplankton assemblages.


subalpine zonealkalinityphytoplanktondinoflagellatescyanobacteriachrysophytesNorth Cascades National Park