Transformation and Simplification of Aquatic Vegetation Structure and Reoligotrophication of a Lake During the Last 40 Years

Michał Brzozowski, Aleksandra Pełechata, Lech Kaczmarek, Mariusz Pełechaty


The recovery or reconstruction of aquatic vegetation has recently been reported as a result of water quality improvement after anthropogenic eutrophication. The objectives of this study were: to investigate long-term trends in aquatic vegetation abundance in relation to decreasing water fertility and to present new directions in changes of the submerged aquatic vegetation structure, species richness, and biodiversity in Lake Kuźnickie (western Poland) with the perspective of the last 40 years (1978–2018). Lake Kuźnickie is an example of water quality improvement taking place without any additional reclamation measures, except a reduction in nutrient discharge into the lake from its direct catchment. Currently, the study lake represents a mesotrophic status. The Trophy State Index evidenced a decrease in the lake’s fertility compared to previous decades. The water quality improvement manifests in a significant reduction in the total phosphorus concentration. An analysis of the spatial changes in the phytolittoral evidenced a decrease in rush vegetation between 1978 and 2018 by over 2 ha. In the period 1978–2018, the aquatic vegetation structure in Lake Kuźnickie underwent significant reconstruction. Currently, charophytes play a much greater role in the lake compared to the last 40 years, contributing to the maintenance of the lake’s high water quality. Moreover, the endangered charophyte Lychnothamnus barbatus has recovered. Concurrently, however, the biodiversity and species richness of the submerged vegetation has decreased. At present, only four species dominate in the lake, including two charophytes L. barbatus, Nitellopsis obtusa, and two vascular plants Ceratophyllum demersum and Myriophyllum spicatum. Over 40 years, Lake Kuźnickie has changed from a eutrophic lake dominated by vascular plants to a mesotrophic lake with a codominant contribution by charophytes. The lake is characterized by good water quality, optimal for the development of aquatic vegetation, especially charophytes.


aquatic vegetation; vascular plants; charophytes; Chara-lake; water fertility; Lychnothamnus barbatus; Nitellopsis obtusa

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