Nutrient and plankton dynamics in an intermittently closed/open lagoon, Smiths Lake, south-eastern Australia: An ecological model

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Journal Article
Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 2007, 72 (4), pp. 690 - 702
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A spatially resolved, eleven-box ecological model is presented for an Intermittently Closed and Open Lake or Lagoon (ICOLL), configured for Smiths Lake, NSW Australia. ICOLLs are characterised by low flow from the catchment and a dynamic sand bar blocking oceanic exchange, which creates two distinct phases - open and closed. The process descriptions in the ecological model are based on a combination of physical and physiological limits to the processes of nutrient uptake, light capture by phytoplankton and predator-prey interactions. An inverse model is used to calculate mixing coefficients from salinity observations. When compared to field data, the ecological model obtains a fit for salinity, nitrogen, phosphorus, chlorophyll a and zooplankton which is within 1.5 standard deviations of the mean of the field data. Simulations show that nutrient limitation (nitrogen and phosphorus) is the dominant factor limiting growth of the autotrophic state variables during both the open and closed phases of the lake. The model is characterised by strong oscillations in phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance, typical of predator-prey cycles. There is an increase in the productivity of phytoplankton and zooplankton during the open phase. This increased productivity is exported out of the lagoon with a net nitrogen export from water column variables of 489 and 2012 mol N d-1 during the two studied openings. The model is found to be most sensitive to the mortality and feeding efficiency of zooplankton. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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