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Research article2013Peer reviewedOpen access

Phytoplankton indicator taxa for reference conditions in Northern and Central European lowland lakes

Järvinen, Marko; Drakare, Stina; Free, Gary; Lyche-Solheim, Anne; Phillips, Geoff; Skjelbred, Birger; Mischke, Ute; Ott, Ingmar; Poikane, Sandra; Söndergaard, Martin; Pasztaleniec,, Agnieszka; Van Wichelen, Jeroen; Portielje, Robert


Phytoplankton data from 606 lakes were used to characterize indicator taxa of near-pristine reference conditions in clearwater and humic lowland lakes of Northern and Central Europe. Reference lakes were selected based on low pressure from catchment land-use, low population density and the absence of point sources. Reference lakes had low phytoplankton biomass and taxa richness compared to non-reference lakes. In low alkalinity lakes of Northern Europe, the reference communities had high biomass proportions of chrysophytes and low proportions of cyanobacteria; in the Central European high alkalinity lakes, the biomass was distributed more evenly among algal groups. Indicator species analysis and similarity analysis listed 5-29 taxa indicating reference conditions. Indicator taxa differed especially between the low alkalinity and the high alkalinity lakes, but there were also country-specific differences. Most common indicator taxa for the northern reference lakes were chrysophytes (e.g. Bitrichia, Dinobryon). In the Central European reference lakes, diatoms (e.g. Cyclotella) were more characteristic. Despite the differences, there was a general finding that taxa present in reference lakes were often also present in non-reference lakes, but typically in lower biomass proportions; another characteristic of the reference communities is the absence of many taxa typically found in non-reference lakes.


Phytoplankton assemblages; Algal indicators; Eutrophication; Indicator species analysis; Europe; Water framework directive; Freshwater ecosystems

Published in

2013, Volume: 704, number: 1, pages: 97-113 Publisher: SPRINGER

    Associated SLU-program

    Lakes and watercourses

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Environmental Sciences

    Publication identifier


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