Do current European lake monitoring programmes reliably estimate phytoplankton community changes?
Many European lakes are monitored according to the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), with focus on phytoplankton biomass and species composition. However, the low-frequency WFD monitoring may miss short-term phytoplankton changes. This is an important issue because short-term extreme meteorological events (heat waves and heavy rain) are predicted to increase in frequency and intensity with climate change. We used records from Lake Mondsee (Austria) from 2009 to 2015 to test if a reduction from monthly to seasonal sampling affected the average annual phytoplankton biovolume. Furthermore, we combined inverted light microscopy, FlowCAM and flow cytometry to estimate the effect of sampling during extreme events on average phytoplankton biovolume. Relative to monthly sampling, seasonal sampling significantly overestimated phytoplankton biomass. A heat wave in 2015 and two episodes of heavy rain in 2015 and 2016 caused species-specific changes; biovolumes of chlorophytes and the filamentous cyanobacterium Planktothrix rubescens (De Candolle ex Gomont) Anagnostidis & Komárek increased significantly during the heat wave. Using live material with FlowCAM and flow cytometry, we detected small and fragile cells and colonies that were either ignored or underrepresented by analysing fixed samples with light microscopy. We suggest a modified sampling and analysis strategy to capture short-term changes within the phytoplankton community.
Publisher URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10750-017-3426-6
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