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Initial project plan

State of the art and preliminary work

The water quality of many shallow lakes and lowland rivers is affected by inherent stabilising mechanisms resulting in the occurrence of multiple stable states (Scheffer et al. 1993, 2001, Hilt et al. 2011). This phenomenon can cause the ecosystem to undergo sudden regime shifts and hysteresis in response to changes in external factors such as nutrient loading or climate with important implications for the management of such systems (Scheffer et al. 2001, Mooij et al. 2009). During the last century, many lakes lost their submerged vegetation and shifted to the turbid, phytoplankton-dominated state, especially those in urban areas (De Backer et al. 2010, Hilt et al. 2010a,b, 2013), with consequences for their water quality and carbon balance (Brothers et al. 2013a,b). There is still a lack of understanding of the mechanisms triggering regime shifts in eutrophic lakes (Jeppesen et al. 2005, Hupfer & Hilt 2008), particularly the mechanisms controlling macrophyte abundance (Hilt et al. 2010a,b, 2013, Lischke et al. 2014). Apart from nutrient loading, changes in groundwater flow through sediments caused by bank filtration for drinking water production can potentially be important for macrophyte abundance in urban lakes and rivers. Bank filtration of river and lake water is often induced by the pumping of wells adjacent to the lake or river banks to gain drinking water (Bouwer 2002). Natural and artificial processes of bank filtration are used in many countries in order to replenish groundwater resources which can be subsequently utilised for drinking water production (Tufenkij et al. 2002). Groundwater seepage contains high concentrations of inorganic carbon (due to subsurface respiration) and is typically relatively rich of nutrients. The discharge of groundwater into lakes primarily occurs near the shore line (Shaw & Prepas 1990), thus seepage and littoral zones in lakes coincide. Existing studies show a significant positive relationship between groundwater seepage fluxes and macrophyte and benthic algae abundance due to enhanced availability of nutrients and inorganic carbon (Chambers & Kalff 1987, Lodge et al. 1989, Lillie & Barko 1990, Hagerthey & Kerfoot 1998, Frandsen et al. 2012). Bank filtration, however, reduces groundwater seepage and might therefore be responsible for the disappearance of macrophytes due to reduced CO2 availability (Körner 2001) or other mechanisms affecting the littoral boundary sediment layer such as clogging (Hoffmann & Gunkel 2011a) or changes in redox conditions (Massmann et al. 2008).

Aims and work steps

The aim of this doctoral thesis is the analysis of changes in groundwater seepage which has the potential to induce regime shifts in eutrophic lakes and rivers. Field and laboratory seepage chamber experiments will be conducted to answer the question whether changes in the groundwater seepage fluxes due to bank filtration are responsible for changes in macrophyte abundance and re-establishment. Two Berlin lakes, the Lake Tegel and Müggelsee, offer suitable conditions for field macrophyte transplanting experiments because they have extensive littoral areas affected by bank filtration (Hoffmann & Gunkel 2001a, b), have a loss of a former rich macrophyte vegetation, and are presently re-colonising with submerged macrophytes (Körner 2001, Hilt et al. 2010b, 2013). In addition, the dynamic ecosystem model PCLake (Janse et al. 2010) will be adapted to simulate the effect of groundwater and changes by bank filtration on submerged macrophyte abundance and subsequent influences on lake water quality. Adaptations of this model have been successfully used to simulate the influence of climate change (Mooij et al. 2007) and terrestrial organic carbon inputs (Lischke et al. 2014) on shallow lakes ecosystems. Groundwater seepage effects will be incorporated considering knowledge from Schankat et al. (2009).

Connections to interfaces and doctoral theses

This doctoral thesis will be carried out in collaboration with N1, N3, N6 and T4, which are partly focused on the sediment-surface water boundary layer. Common questions related to modelling will be discussed with N6, N7 and N2.



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Brothers,S., Hilt,S., Meyer,S. & Köhler,J. (2013a): Plant community structure determines primary productivity in shallow, eutrophic lakes. Freshwater Biology, 58, 2264–2276

Brothers,S., Hilt,S., Attermeyer,K., Grossart,H.P., Kosten,S., Mehner,T., Meyer,N., Scharnweber,K. & Köhler,J. (2013b): A regime shift from macrophyte to phytoplankton dominance enhances carbon burial in a shallow, eutrophic lake. Ecosphere 4(11), art 137

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Frandsen,M., Nilsson,B., Engesgaard,P. & Pedersen,O. (2012): Groundwater seepage stimulates. growth of aquatic macrophytes. Freshwater Biology, 57, 907-921

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Hilt,S., Adrian,R., Köhler,J., Monaghan,M.T. & Sayer,C. (2013): Clear, crashing, turbid and back – long-term changes of macrophyte assemblages in a shallow lake. Freshwater Biology, 58, 2027-2036

Hilt,S., Henschke,I., Rücker,J. & Nixdorf,B. (2010a): Can submerged macrophytes influence turbidity and trophic state in deep lakes? Suggestions from a case study. Journal of Environmental Quality, 39, 725-733

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Lischke,B., Hilt,S., Janse,J.H., Kuiper,J.J., Mehner,T., Mooij,W.M. Gaedke,U. (2014): Enhanced input of allochthonous organic matter reduces the resilience of the clear-water state of shallow lakes - a model study. Ecosystems, DOI: 10.1007/s10021-014-9747-7

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Mooij,W.M., Janse,J.H., De Senerpont Domis,L.N., Hülsmann,S. & Ibelings,B.W. (2007): Predicting the effect of climate change on temperate shallow lakes with the ecosystem model PCLake. Hydrobiologia, 584, 443-454

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Scheffer,M., Hosper,S.H., Meijer,M.L., Moss,B. & Jeppesen,E. (1993): Alternative equilibria in shallow lakes. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, 8, 275-279

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