|Cyanobacteria bloom, Mohegan Lake, NY. Copyright Michael R. Martin|
Scientists at the University of Nottingham and McGill University have found that pollution is the biggest driver for nuisance algal blooms in European and North American lakes, according to a release from U. Nottingham. They analyzed blue-green algae concentrations in more than 100 lowland and alpine lakes to make the find.
The study is published in the journal Ecology Letters and its findings not only point to pollution as the central cause for a rise in blue-green algal blooms but also delve into the complications that climate change can bring about.
“We found that cyanobacterial populations have expanded really strongly in many lakes since the advent of industrial fertilizers and rapid urban growth,” said Zofia Taranu, a doctoral student in the department of biology at McGill, in Laboratory Equipment. “While we already knew that cyanobacteria prefer warm and nutrient-rich conditions, our study is also the first to show that the effect of nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, overwhelm those of global warming.”
“Our work shows that we need to work harder as a society to reduce nutrient discharges to surface waters,” said Irene Gregory-Eaves, associate professor of biology at Mcgill and study co-author, to Laboratory Equipment. “Because diffuse nutrient loading is the main issue, we need to build collaborations to tackle this complex problem. For example, partnerships among freshwater scientists and farmers are starting to happen, and more of this needs to take place, so that we can strike a balance between maximizing crop yields and minimizing excess fertilizer applications.”