Seasonal Dynamics of Nutrient Limitation in a Tropical High-Altitude Lake (Lake Titicaca, Peru-Bolivia): Application of Physiological Bioassays

Document Type


Journal/Book Title/Conference

Limnology and Oceanography






American Society of Limnology and Oceanography

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seasonal dynamics, nutrient limitation, tropical high-altitude lake, Lake Titicaca, application, physiological bioassays

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Five types of physiological assay were applied to samples from three sites in Lake Titicaca, Peru- Bolivia (16”s) to assess the magnitude and seasonality of N or P limitation of algal growth. Phosphorus appeared to be in abundant supply relative to growth requirements throughout 1982. Alkaline phosphatase levels were low (~3 nmol substrate‘Chl aeliter-l), 3zP0.,3- turnover times were always long (> lo3 min in the main body of the lake), and little or no phosphorus was accumulated by the seston during short term enrichments. Ammonium enhancement assays suggested a persistent cellular shortage of nitrogen throughout all seasons in the plankton of a large shallow bay, and in the main basin when the water was stratified. High ammonium uptake capacities, as measured with the NH,+ analogue [L4C]methylammonium, and selective accumulation of nitrogen from N plus P enrichments provided supportive evidence of cellular N deficiency. Winter mixing brought large quantities of NO,- and SRP into the surface euphotic zone of the main basin, and throughout this period neither N nor P appeared to be limiting. Polymixis in the shallow bay resulted in large variations in nitrogen supply and deficiency, and these effects were modulated in part by changes in depth of the euphotic zone. Nitrogen was always in low abundance relative to phosphorus in Lake Titicaca, but the extent of nutrient control on algal growth varied considerably with site and time of year


Originally published by the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO). Publisher's PDF available through remote link. Must click on corresponding publication.