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The nutrient forms, cycling and exchange flux in the sediment and overlying water system in lakes from the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River

QIN Boqiang & ZHU Guangwei Nanjing Institute of Geography & Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China  
This paper is a review of research works concerning the nutrient transportation, transformation and exchange between water, sediment and biota in the lakes from the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River conducted in the context of project entitled "The Processes and Mechanism of Lake Eutrophication in Middle and Lower Reaches of Yangtze River". All the lakes from this area are shallow lakes. According to the typical lake site research, the lakes from the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River have a higher baseline of nutrition in the history. Normally the trophic status of these lakes can be categorized into medium-trophic or eutrophic. Human activities have been enhanced during the last decades, which speed up the lake eutrophic process. Lake eutrophication control needs to reduce not only the external nutrient inputs from watershed but also the internal loading from the sediments. Investigations revealed that the lake sediments in this area are considerablly high in nutrition in which at most about 30% of phosphorus exists in the form of bio-available in the sediment. The surface sediment will exert great effects on the nutrient exchange between water-sediment interface via adsorption and release of nutrient. The nutrient release from the sediment in these shallow lakes is mainly in two ways, i.e. in the undisturbed condition the nutrient is released through diffusion created by the nutrient gradient from sediment to overlying water; whereas in disturbed condition, the nutrient release is determined by the hydrodynamic forcing intensity and the sediment resuspension. Metallic elements such as the iron, manganese and aluminium and the aerobic-anaerobic ambience will affect the release of nutrients. The disturbed release will increase the total nutrients in the water column significantly in the short period. At the beginning of sediment resuspension, the dissolved nutrient concentration will increase. This increase will be damped if the ferric oxide and aluminium are rich in sediment because of the adsorption and flocculation. This means that the lakes have capability of eliminating the nutrient loadings. Investigations for the lakes from middle and down stream of Yangtze River have suggested that most lakes have the self-cleaning capability. Dredging the control of the internal loading, therefore, is only applicable to the small lakes or undisturbed bays which normally are situated nearby the city or town and rich in organic materials in the sediment. In addition, the strong reduction condition and weak aeration of these lakes and bays make these small lakes and bays release much more bio-available nutrient and without much self-eliminating capability. Moreover, eutrophication induced algal bloom in these lakes will change the pH of water, which further induces the increase in the nutrient release. In turn, the increase in nutrient release promotes the growth of phytoplankton and results in severe algal bloom. For the heavily polluted water, research suggests that the biomass of bacteria and alkaline phosphatase activity will be higher corresponding to the higher concentration of nutrients, which accelerates the nutrient recycling between water, sediment and biota. Quick recycling of nutrient, in turn, promotes the production and biomass growth of microorganism and leads to more severe eutrophication. Further research work should focus on the nutrient transformation mechanism and the effects of microbial loop on the eutrophication.
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