Evaluating Nutrient Reduction, Grazing and Barley Straw as Measures Against Algal Growth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The aim of our study was to experimentally investigate whether it is possible to reduce nuisance growth of filamentous algae in freshwater ecosystems. We used an experimental set-up mimicking a shallow pond system and performed a field investigation in the eutrophic moat of Krapperup castle (Southern Sweden), which exemplifies an extremely impaired ecosystem with ample growth of filamentous green algae. The indoor experiment tested three treatments: I) reduced nutrient concentrations, II) invertebrate grazers and III) addition of barley straw, which may constitute measures against filamentous algal growth and thereby improve the quality of the ecosystem services provided by water bodies. Our results show a decrease in cyanobacteria and diatom abundances in all mesocosms as filamentous algae biomass increased, suggesting that the microalgae suffered from nutrient and light competition with filamentous algae. A tendency for lower filamentous algae final biomass, as well as coverage, was observed in the treatment where the concentration of nutrients was reduced. Grazers treatment showed a tendency to inhibit filamentous algae growth on artificial macrophytes towards the end of the experiment, suggesting that snails initially fed on their preferred food source (diatoms), until it was almost depleted and then started to feed on filamentous algae. Interestingly, the barley straw treatment was the only treatment promoting macrophytes growth and enhancing diatom biomass, but this did not affect filamentous algae biomass. However, the ratio between filamentous algae and macrophyte final biomasses was significantly lower in the straw treatment. In a broader context, it is likely that in a long-term perspective the positive effect of barley straw on macrophyte growth will promote a shift from dominance by filamentous algae to macrophytes as main primary producer. Moreover, our experiment shows that barley straw may be effective in reducing cyanobacterial growth, which may lead to improved water quality and thereby ecosystem services, such as supporting and cultural ecosystem services, since cyanobacteria may produce potent toxins and pose a serious risk to human and animal health. Altogether, our experimental results have important implications for the challenge of reversing nuisance filamentous algal blooms in highly eutrophic systems.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Uppsala University
  • University of Turin
  • Lund University
  • Helmholtz Institute for Functional Marine Biodiversity
  • Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Ecology

Keywords

  • Cyanobacteria, Eutrophication, Filamentous algae, Freshwater, Mesocosms, Ponds, Restoration
Original languageEnglish
JournalWetlands
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Aug 5
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes