Worldwide, eutrophication is threatening lake ecosystems. To support lake management numerous eutrophication models have been developed. Diverse research questions in a wide range of lake ecosystems are addressed by these models. The established models are based on three key approaches: the empirical approach that employs field surveys, the theoretical approach in which models based on first principles are tested against lab experiments, and the process-based approach that uses parameters and functions representing detailed biogeochemical processes. These approaches have led to an accumulation of field-, lab- and model-based knowledge, respectively. Linking these sources of knowledge would benefit lake management by exploiting complementary information; however, the development of a simple tool that links these approaches was hampered by their large differences in scale and complexity. Here we propose a Generically Parameterized Lake eutrophication model (GPLake) that links field-, lab- and model-based knowledge and can be used to make a first diagnosis of lake water quality. We derived GPLake from consumer-resource theory by the principle that lacustrine phytoplankton is typically limited by two resources: nutrients and light. These limitations are captured in two generic parameters that shape the nutrient to chlorophyll-a relations. Next, we parameterized GPLake, using knowledge from empirical, theoretical, and process-based approaches. GPLake generic parameters were found to scale in a comparable manner across data sources. Finally, we show that GPLake can be applied as a simple tool that provides lake managers with a first diagnosis of the limiting factor and lake water quality, using only the parameters for lake depth, residence time and current nutrient loading. With this first-order assessment, lake managers can easily assess measures such as reducing nutrient load, decreasing residence time or changing depth before spending money on field-, lab- or model- experiments to support lake management.
- Consumer-resource interactions
- Nutrient versus light limitation
- Water quality management