Phytoplankton dynamics in Lake Biwa during the 20th century: Complex responses to climate variation and changes in nutrient status

Narumi K. Tsugeki, Jotaro Urabe, Yuichi Hayami, Michinobu Kuwae, Masami Nakanishi

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27 Citations (Scopus)


We examined algal remains and fossil pigments in 210Pb-dated sediment cores from Lake Biwa to explore historical changes in the phytoplankton community of the lake over the past 100 years and to identify environmental factors that caused those changes. Fluxes of fossil pigments and algal remains were very low before the 1960s, but increased through the 1960s and 1970s, indicating that the lake had eutrophied in the 20 years since 1960. After 1980, however, fluxes of all fossil pigments and algal remains decreased or stabilized. Redundancy analysis with meteorological and limnological variables explained more than 70% of the variation of these fluxes and showed that the decrease in fluxes of most algal taxa that occurred in the 1980s was related to changes in meteorological variables such as wind velocity, rather than changes in the lake's trophic state. Sedimentary records of algal remains also revealed that Aulacoseira nipponica, an endemic diatom species that grows in winter, decreased dramatically after 1980, while Fragilaria crotonensis, a cosmopolitan spring diatom species, became dominant. Replacement of one dominant diatom species by another could not be explained simply by changes in the lake trophic state, but was reasonably strongly related with an increase in winter water temperature. These results suggest that the phytoplankton community in Lake Biwa was influenced by changes in local environmental conditions (nutrient loading) through the 1960s and 1970s, but more so by regional (meteorological) and global (climate warming) factors since 1980.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-83
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jun


  • 20th century
  • Climate warming
  • Eutrophication
  • Lake Biwa
  • Phytoplankton dynamics
  • Wind velocity


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