Lake age and water level affect the turbidity of floodplain lakes along the lower Rhine

F.C.J.M. Roozen, G.J. van Geest, B.W. Ibelings, R.M.M. Roijackers, M. Scheffer, A.D. Buijse

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49 Citations (Scopus)


1. We sampled a set of 93 lakes situated in the floodplains of the lower River Rhine in search for morphometric and other factors that explain their variation in clarity. 2. Lakes with a drop in summer water level were less turbid at the time of sampling, mainly because of a lower concentration of inorganic suspended solids (ISS). 3. We also found that older lakes were more turbid than younger lakes and that this was largely because of an increase in phytoplankton. 4. Water clarity was positively related to lake depth and the presence of vegetation. 5. Model calculations indicated that the underwater light climate was strongly affected by chlorophyll and ISS, the latter being the dominant factor affecting Secchi depth. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) was less important. 6. The high concentration of ISS suggests that intensive resuspension occurs in most of the lakes. Using a simple wave model, and assuming that vegetation protects sediments against resuspension, we could eliminate wind resuspension as an important process in 90% of the lakes, leaving resuspension by benthivorous fish as probably the most important factor determining transparency. 7. Chlorophyll a concentration showed a strong positive correlation to ISS concentration, suggesting that resuspension may also have a positive effect on phytoplankton biomass in these lakes. 8. In conclusion, in-lake processes, rather than river dynamics, seem to be driving the turbidity of floodplain lakes along the lower River Rhine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)519-531
JournalFreshwater Biology
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • geological sedimentation
  • water quality
  • turbidity
  • chlorophyll
  • vegetation
  • surface water
  • river forelands
  • water level
  • river rhine
  • wind-induced resuspension
  • sediment resuspension
  • benthivorous fish
  • shallow lakes
  • hydrological connectivity
  • phytoplankton biomass
  • community structure
  • chlorophyll-a
  • plankton


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