Growth rate of alpine phytoplankton assemblages from contrasting watersheds and N‐deposition regimes exposed to nitrogen and phosphorus enrichments.

Abstract : 1. High mountain lakes are a network of sentinels, sensitive to any events occurring within their waterbodies, their surrounding catchments and their airsheds. By modifying nutrient balance and availability in water, both local and global changes are expected to alter primary productivity and to trigger strong ecological impacts in these ecosystems. 2. Predicting ecological trajectories under future change is a key challenge for both scientists and conservation managers. French alpine lakes, in the most southern and western part of the European Alps, have received surprisingly little attention to date. In this article, we address how variations in nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) supply are likely to impact the area's phytoplankton growth. We performed N and/or P enrichment microcosm experiments under controlled conditions on 12 phytoplankton assemblages sampled during the summer 2016 in four French alpine lakes with contrasting catchments and N-deposition regimes. 3. The nutrients limiting phytoplankton growth varied according to the nutrient sto-ichiometry of the lake water. In the lakes exposed to high N-deposition rates (≈700 kg N km-2 year-1), the water contained more N than P and phytoplankton growth in microcosms was either limited by P or not limited by either N or P. In the lakes exposed to low N-deposition rates (≈500 kg N km-2 year-1), N availability relative to P was lower in the lake with vegetated catchment than in the lake with rocky catchment, resulting in a switch from P to NP colimitation of the phytoplankton in microcosms. 4. Our data clearly indicate that French alpine lakes do not host the same diversity and structure of phytoplankton communities and that phytoplankton composition influenced phytoplankton growth in microcosms. First, we show that nonmotile colonial chlorophytes appeared in late summer assemblages, with lower growth rates but P-storage abilities. Second, our findings indicate that the growth of phytoplankton assemblages dominated by diatoms was increasingly limited by sil-ica (SiO 2) throughout the summer, along with a 70% decrease in SiO 2 concentration in lake water. 5. The forecast global changes in the French Alps should increase phytoplankton growth in most high mountain lakes where P is the main limiting nutrient, beforeNP colimitation. These changes are likely to be of lesser extent in lakes with large vegetated catchments in the northern area with lower N-deposition rates and of greater extent in the southern area with higher N-deposition rates and future P-deposition rates. 6. By investigating the relationship between nutrient availability, phytoplankton composition and phytoplankton growth rate, this experimental laboratory microcosm study will help interpret current multifactorial data from in situ monitoring networks in the Alps. It will also be helpful to develop models to better predict the sentinel lake responses to local and global changes.
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Coralie Jacquemin, Céline Bertrand, Benjamin Oursel, Maxine Thorel, Evelyne Franquet, et al.. Growth rate of alpine phytoplankton assemblages from contrasting watersheds and N‐deposition regimes exposed to nitrogen and phosphorus enrichments.. Freshwater Biology, Wiley, 2018. ⟨hal-01932698⟩

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