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Phytoplankton (workpackage 3.1)


Workpackage 3.1 is dedicated to lake assessment using lake phytoplankton. Particular emphasis is placed on the development of new biological metrics to assess the impact of eutrophication on phytoplankton communities. The uncertainty of assessment results is being addressed using replicate sample data from an excessive field campaign in summer 2009. The specific objectives of WP 3.1 are:


Existing phytoplankton data have been collated from 1,734 lakes in 19 European countries to develop and validate metrics for the impact of eutrophication on phytoplankton composition and algal blooms. To quantify the main sources of uncertainty, a field campaign was carried out in 31 lakes across Europe (sample sites). In each lake, phytoplankton were sampled from 3 locations with replicates from each location counted by 2 different analysts. Three different methods have been used to analyse the phytoplankton community: traditional counts, HPLC (high-performance liquid chromatography) of algal pigments and fluoroprobe of different algal groups.

Outcome and products

Common metrics are being developed for different regions of Europe for both phytoplankton composition and algal blooms. These metrics are being developed, alongside the use of Chlorophyll a, as a measure of phytoplankton abundance, to represent the ecological status of a lake with respect to eutrophication pressures. Our philosophy is that we want this to be more than just a proxy measure of phosphorus concentrations, but more widely represent changes in community structure and functioning associated with nutrient pressures. Potential candidate metrics of a phytoplankton multimetric index are:

Relevance for end-users

The development of common metrics is being carried out in close collaboration with GIGs and should be complete by September 2010 in time to help take forward the Intercalibration process. This will provide a common measure that will allow easier comparison of the varied phytoplankton metrics that have been developed around Europe. The work on uncertainty will inform guidance to national agencies and future CEN standards on phytoplankton sampling. Ultimately we aim to deliver tools that will deliver more robust assessments of the ecological health of European lakes.


Dr Laurence Carvalho, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, UK.

WISER: "Water bodies in Europe: Integrative Systems to assess Ecological status and Recovery"
Online: [date: 2024/06/24]
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