Light, nutrients and primary productivity in Lake Biwa: An evaluation of the current ecosystem situation

Jotaro Urabe, Tatsuki Sekino, Kentaro Nozaki, Akihiro Tsuji, Chikage Yoshimizu, Maiko Kagami, Tadatoshi Koitabashi, Tatsuo Miyazaki, Masami Nakanishi

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32 Citations (Scopus)


Simple correlation and multiple regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship between primary productivity and environmental factors in the north basin of Lake Biwa. The primary production rates used in the analyses were estimated monthly or bimonthly during the growing season (April-November) in 1992, 1996 and 1997 with the 13C method. Elemental (C, N and P) contents of seston were used to assess nutrient conditions. Analyses revealed that 86% of variance in depth-integrated primary production rates (areal PP) can be explained by changes in light intensity, and sestonic C, N and P concentrations. Water temperature had no effect on areal PP. To assess relative effects of light and nutrients on PP, the P:B ratio was estimated by normalizing PP with sestonic C. The areal P:B ratio correlated most significantly with the sestonic N:P ratio, followed by light intensity. When regression analyses were made at each depth, however, the P:B ratio correlated significantly only with the sestonic N:P ratio at 0 and 1 m depths, while light intensity was also incorporated into the regressions at deeper than 2.5 m. In these regressions, the P:B ratio was negatively correlated with sestonic N:P ratio but positively with light intensity. The results suggest that the primary production rate in this lake was mainly limited by P relative to N supply rates, but was not free from light limitation in a large part of the epilimnion. In Lake Biwa, the vertical water mixing regime as well as the nutrient supply seem to be important in determining the growth and composition of primary producers, since the surface mixing layer extends into 10-15 m depths during most of the growing season.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-242
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Sept


  • Lake Biwa
  • Light
  • Phytoplankton
  • Primary production
  • Seston C:N:P ratio


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