US Long-Term Ecological Research Network
Phosphorus loading reductions needed to control blue-green algal blooms in Lake Mendota
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We evaluated the reductions in P loading needed to control blue-green algal blooms in Lake Mendota, Wisconsin. After developing a 21-year loading data set, we used a P mass balance model expressed as a difference equation with an annual time step indexed from mid-April. We defined and estimated a loss parameter lambda as the proportion of the lake’s April P concentration lost through sedimentation and outflow during the following year. Using the distribution of annual lambda ’s and input loadings, we predicted the steady-state distribution of April P concentrations that would result from scenarios of altered inputs due to changes in management practices. These results were then linked to the probability of summer blue-green algal blooms. For no load reduction, the probability of a bloom (\textgreater2 mg algae ·L-1) on any summer day is about 60\%. This probability decreases to 20\% with a load reduction of 50\%. Our approach illustrates how managers can consider reducing the frequency of extreme events like algal blooms, which may correspond more to the public’s perception of lake water quality than average conditions.