Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Environmental and Occupational Health

Major Professor

Noreen D. Poor, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Mark Ross, Ph.D.

Keywords

Aquatic macrophytes, Development, Nutrient enrichment, Land use, Phytoplankton

Abstract

Twentieth century human settlement within the Tampa Bay watershed was linked to a dramatic mid-century decline in bay water quality and loss of seagrass acreage. Decades of direct and indirect nutrient discharges to the bay from phosphorus mining, fertilizer manufacturing, and wastewater treatment, as examples, impaired the estuary. In the past twenty years, regional stakeholders have worked to improve the bay water quality by reducing point and non-point source nutrient loading to the bay. Lakes within the Tampa Bay watershed may play an important role in attenuating the flow of nutrients into the bay. This study hypothesized that between 1990 and 2007 lake water concentrations of total phosphorus (TP) and chlorophyll-a, as well as the ratio of total nitrogen to total phosphorus (TN:TP), have changed for selected lakes in the Tampa Bay watershed.

During this period, the watershed underwent a rapid shift in land use as groves and farms became shopping malls and new homes. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed that for 10 lakes clustered in the northern portion of the Tampa Bay watershed and classified as oligotrophic or mesotrophic, observed increases in water concentrations of TP and chlorophyll-a were statistically significant. For 6 lakes classified as hypereutrophic and scattered across the watershed, observed decreases in water TP concentrations were statistically significant, while chlorophyll-a concentrations did not change. For both groups of lakes, the TN:TP ratio declined significantly; however, oligotrophic and mesotrophic lakes were phosphorus-limited but hypereutrophic lakes were nitrogen-limited, based on this ratio.

A second hypothesis of this study was that lake water concentrations of TP, total nitrogen (TN) and chlorophyll-a were lower in lakes that had more coverage of submerged aquatic vegetation, as vegetation suppresses re-suspension of sediments and is a reservoir for nitrogen and phosphorus and a surface for biofilms. The results of a one-way ANOVA showed that for 34 lakes within the Tampa Bay watershed, lakes with a greater than 20 percent volume infested by macrophytes (PVI), water concentrations of TP and chlorophyll-a but not TN were statistically lower than for lakes with a less than 20 PVI.

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