|Suggested classification for stream trophic state: Distributions of temperate stream types by chlorophyll, total nitrogen and phosphorus
|Year of Publication
|Dodds, WK, Jones, JR, Welch, EB
|Chlorophyll, eutrophic, mesotrophic, nitrogen, nutrients, oligotrophic, periphyton, Phosphorus, rivers, streams
Aquatic scientists and managers have no conventional mechanism with which to characterize and compare nutrients and algal biomass in streams within a broader context analogous to trophic state categorization in lakes by chlorophyll (chl) and nutrients. We analyzed published data for a large number of distinct, temperate, stream sites for mean benthic chl (n=286), maximum benthic chl (n=176), sestonic chl (n=292), total nitrogen (n=1070), and total phosphorus (n=1366) as a first effort to establish criteria for trophic boundaries. Two classification systems are proposed. In the first system, the boundary between oligotrophic and mesotrophic categories is defined by the lower third of the cumulative distribution of the values. The mesotrophic–eutrophic boundary is defined by the upper third of the distribution. In the second system, individual streams are placed more precisely in a broad geographic context by assessing the proportion of streams that have greater or lesser nutrient and chl values. The proposed relationships for streams were compared to trophic criteria published for lakes. The proposed trophic boundaries for streams generally include a broader range of values in the mesotrophic range than conventional criteria for lakes. The ratio of maximum to mean benthic chl for streams was significantly higher than that found for planktonic chl in lakes, reflecting the greater variance in streams. This high variance in streams suggests that the proposed stream trophic criteria should be viewed only as a general first approach to categorizing stream ecosystems.