Shifting states, shifting services: Linking regime shifts to changes in ecosystem services of shallow lakes

Annette B.G. Janssen*, Sabine Hilt, Sarian Kosten, Jeroen J.M. de Klein, Hans W. Paerl, Dedmer B. Van de Waal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


Shallow lakes can shift between stable states as a result of anthropogenic or natural drivers. Four common stable states differ in dominant groups of primary producers: submerged, floating, or emergent macrophytes or phytoplankton. Shifts in primary producer dominance affect key supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services supplied by lakes. However, links between states and services are often neglected or unknown in lake management, resulting in conflicts and additional costs. Here, we identify major shallow lake ecosystem services and their links to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), compare service provisioning among the four ecosystem states and discuss potential trade-offs. We identified 39 ecosystem services potentially provided by shallow lakes. Submerged macrophytes facilitate most of the supporting (86%) and cultural (63%) services, emergent macrophytes facilitate most regulating services (60%), and both emergent and floating macrophytes facilitate most provisioning services (63%). Phytoplankton dominance supports fewer ecosystem services, and contributes most to provisioning services (42%). The shallow lake ecosystem services we identified could be linked to 10 different SDGs, notably zero hunger (SDG 2), clean water and sanitation (SDG 6), sustainable cities and communities (SDG 11), and climate action (SDG13). We highlighted several trade-offs (1) among ecosystem services, (2) within ecosystem services, and (3) between ecosystem services across ecosystems. These trade-offs can have significant ecological and economic consequences that may be prevented by early identification in water quality management. In conclusion, common stable states in shallow lakes provide a different and diverse set of ecosystem services with numerous links to the majority of SDGs. Conserving and restoring ecosystem states should account for potential trade-offs between ecosystem services and preserving the natural value of shallow lakes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
JournalFreshwater Biology
Issue number1
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • climate change
  • cyanobacteria
  • eutrophication
  • higher plants
  • restoration


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