Seasonal Dynamics of Periphyton in a Large Tropical Lake
Tropical aquatic systems are generally assumed to have little seasonality in productivity patterns. However, this study indicated that there was substantial seasonal variation in epilithic productivity and biomass in tropical Lake Tanganyika, due primarily to seasonal patterns in lake hydrodynamics that influence nutrient availability. Although they support much of the lake’s biological diversity, epilithic algae made a minor contribution to the total energy budget in Lake Tanganyika. A comparison among large, oligotrophic lakes revealed no significant latitudinal trends in periphyton productivity or biomass. However, Lake Tanganyika has relatively low benthic algal biomass and is therefore more efficient at photosynthesis than the temperate lakes. The influence of wave action and consumer density and diversity may be important in moderating productivity of the epilithic community.