Low Nitrogen to Phosphorus Ratios Favor Dominance by Blue-Green Algae in Lake Phytoplankton

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Science  12 Aug 1983:
Vol. 221, Issue 4611, pp. 669-671
DOI: 10.1126/science.221.4611.669


An analysis of growing season data from 17 lakes throughout the world suggests that the relative proportion of blue-green algae (Cyanophyta) in the epilimnetic phytoplankton is dependent on the epilimnetic ratio of total nitrogen to total phosphorus. Blue-green algae tended to be rare when this ratio exceeded 29 to 1 by weight, suggesting that modification of this ratio by control of nutrient additions may provide a means by which lake water quality can be managed.

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