Nutrient limitation of phytoplankton communities in Subarctic lakes and ponds in Wapusk National Park, Canada

Celia C. Symons, Shelley E. Arnott, Jon N. Sweetman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We determined the limiting nutrient of phytoplankton in 21 lakes and ponds in Wapusk National Park, Canada, using nutrient enrichment bioassays to assess the response of natural phytoplankton communities to nitrogen and phosphorus additions. The goal was to determine whether these Subarctic lakes and ponds were nutrient (N or P) limited, and to improve the ability to predict future impacts of increased nutrient loading associated with climate change. We found that 38% of lakes were not limited by nitrogen or phosphorus, 26% were co-limited by N and P, 26% were P-limited and 13% were N-limited. TN/TP, DIN/TP and NO 3 -/TP ratios from each lake were compared to the Redfield ratio to predict the limiting nutrient; however, these predictors only agreed with 29% of the bioassay results, suggesting that nutrient ratios do not provide a true measure of nutrient limitation within this region. The N-limited lakes had significantly different phytoplankton community composition with more chrysophytes and Anabaena sp. compared to all other lakes. N and P limitation of phytoplankton communities within Wapusk National Park lakes and ponds suggests that increased phytoplankton biomass may result in response to increased nutrient loading associated with environmental change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-489
Number of pages9
JournalPolar Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Cite this