Recent trends in mountain lake primary production: evaluating the response to fish stocking relative to regional environmental stressors

Maria Sia, Rebecca Doyle, K.A. Moser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Sia ME, Doyle RM, Moser KA. 2020. Recent trends in mountain lake primary production: evaluating the response to fish stocking relative to regional environmental stressors. Lake Reserv Manage. XX:XXX–XXX. Although mountain lakes are often remote, they are impacted by a myriad of stressors, including species introductions, atmospheric fertilization, and climate change. These stressors have the potential to increase primary production, which can threaten mountain lakes by decreasing water quality, reducing species richness, and lowering dissolved oxygen concentrations. The relative importance of these stressors as drivers of production is not well understood. We therefore investigated the importance of fish stocking, relative to other stressors, as a driver of primary production in mountain lakes. Our research focused on Uinta Mountain lakes, which, like many lakes in the western United States, were stocked with salmonid fish in the 1950s. In 2 stocked lakes and one unstocked lake, we reconstructed a record of ∼300 yr of primary production from lake sediments using changes in percentage of organic matter and spectrally inferred concentrations of chlorophyll a and its derivatives. With long-term trends in primary production, we determined that all 3 study lakes, including the unstocked lake, show unprecedented increases in primary production beginning in the 1950s. We attribute recent increases in primary production mainly to atmospheric deposition of nitrogen and climate warming, but do not rule out future impacts of fish stocking. Our article demonstrates how breakpoint analysis can be used to identify the most serious threats to mountain lakes, even if those lakes are impacted by multiple stressors or stressors originating from distant places.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-62
Number of pages16
JournalLake and Reservoir Management
Volume37
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2021

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