Iron in Eutrophic Clear Lake, California: Its Importance for Algal Nitrogen Fixation and Growth
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Clear Lake, California, is warm, shallow, polymictic, and eutrophic. During 1975, levels of dissolved (< 0.45 μm) iron in all three basins of Clear Lake were always low (15–30 μg∙L−1) and decreased to 2 μg∙L−1 during the major bloom of Aphanizomenon flos-aquae. Nitrogen fixation (acetylene reduction) rates of the blue-green algal populations were stimulated as much as 500% above control levels by iron additions in laboratory and in situ large-volume bioassays. Carbon fixation rates and chlorophyll a levels were also significantly stimulated by iron additions, but usually less rapidly and to a lesser extent than N2 fixation. Additions of nitrate stimulated carbon fixation and chlorophyll production but inhibited increases in nitrogen fixation. Phosphate additions either had no effect or produced a mixture of stimulation or depression of all three variables. The bioassays indicate that the growth of blue-green algae and other algae in Clear Lake is usually directly limited by combined nitrogen and occasionally by iron or phosphorus. Low iron levels aggravate the effects of low nitrogen by limiting nitrogen fixation, thus reducing blue-green algal growth.
Wurtsbaugh, W. and A. Horne. 1983. Iron in eutrophic Clear Lake, California: its importance for algal nitrogen fixation and growth. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 40: 1419-1429.