You are on page 1of 19

TKA 3104 Environmental Biology

• Limnology is the study of the ecology of
inland waters.
• The word limnology comes from the Greek
root limne meaning “pool” or “marsh”.
Stratification and Turnover in Deep
• Nearly all deep lakes in temperate climates
become stratified during the summer and
overturn in the fall due to changes in the
water temperature that result from the
annual cycle of air temperature changes.
• During the summer, the surface water of a lake is
heated both indirectly by contact with warm air and
directly by sunlight.
• Warm water, being less dense than cool water,
remains near the surface until mixed downward by
turbulence from wind, waves, boats, and other
• Because this turbulence extends only a limited
distance below the water’s surface, the result is an
upper layer of well-mixed, warm water (epilimnion)
floating on the lower water (hypolimnion), which is
poorly mixed and cool, as shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Lake Stratification
• The intermediary layer between the
epilimnion and hypolimnion is called
• The thermocline may be defined as the
region having a change in temperature with
depth that is greater than 1°C/m.
• As shown in Figure 2, in the fall, as
temperature drop, the epilimnion cools until
it is denser than the hypolimnion.
• The surface water than sinks, causing
• The water of the hypolimnion rises to the
surface, where it cools and again sinks.
• The lakes thus becomes completely mixed.
Figure 2: Overturn in stratified lakes
• If the lakes is in a cold climate, this process
stops when the temperature reaches 4°C
because at this temperature water is the
• Further cooling or freezing of the surface
water results in winter stratification, as
shown in Figure 2.
• As the water warms in the spring, it again
overturns and becomes completely mixed.
• Thus, temperate climate lakes have at least
one, if not two, cycles of stratification and
turnover every year.
Biological Zones
• The most important biological zone, shown
in Figure 3, are the euphotic, limnetic,
littoral, and benthic zones.
• Limnetic Zone. The limnetic zone is a layer
of open water where photosynthesis can
occur. Life in limnetic zone is dominated by
floating organisms and actively swimming

Figure 3: Biological zones in a temperate lake

• Euphotic Zone. The upper layer of water
through which sunlight can penetrate is
called euphotic zone. Below the euphotic
zone lies the profundal zone. The transition
between the two zones is called the light
compensation point, which corresponds
roughly to the depth at which the amount of
carbon dioxide being converted to sugars by
photosynthesis is equal to that being
released during respiration.
• Littoral Zone. The shallow water near the
shore in which rooted water plants can grow
is called the littoral zone.
• Benthic Zone. The bottom sediments
constitute the benthic zone.
Lake Productivity
• Table 1 shows how lakes are classified
based upon productivity.
• As the lake shrinks and productivity
increases, the lake may become anoxic or
anaerobic, resulting in a significant change
in the lake ecology.
• This process of succession can continue
until the lake becomes a marsh, then a bog,
and finally a forest or grassland.
• The process is illustrated in Figure 4.
Figure 4: Succession of
lake or pond
• Oligotrophic Lakes. Oligotrophic lakes
have a low level of productivity due to a
severely limited supply of nutrients to
support algal growth.
• Eutrophic Lakes. Eutrophic lakes have a
high productivity because of an abundant
supply of nutrients.
• Mesotrophic Lakes. Lakes intermediate
between oligotrophic and eutrophic are
called mesotrophic.
• Dystrophic Lakes. Dystrophic lakes
receive a large quantity of organic material
from outside the lake and how productivity
due to low nutrient concentrations.
• Hypereutrophic Lakes. Hypereutrophic
lakes are extremely eutrophic, with a high
algal productivity level and intense algal
bloom. These lakes are often subject to
“winter kill” and even “summer kill” during
which the depletion of oxygen results in an
extensive kill of fish and sometimes other
• Senescent Lakes. Very old, shallow lakes
in advanced stages of eutrophication are
called senescent lakes.