Identifying the main drivers of change of phytoplankton community structure and gross primary productivity in a river-lake system

Junjie Jia, Yang Gao, Feng Zhou, Kun Shi, Penny J Johnes, Jennifer A. J. Dungait, Mingzhen Ma, Yao Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)
113 Downloads (Pure)


The management of river-lake systems is hindered by limitations in the applicability of existing models that describe the relationship between environmental factors and phytoplankton community characteristics but rarely include common and indirect effects on algae dynamics. In this study, we assumed that the interaction of light, water, temperature, pH, and nutrients, including direct and indirect effects, are the potential factors affecting phytoplankton dynamics. We determined which of these are the main drivers of phytoplankton community structure and production in a river-lake system by using three different models based on the partial least squares structural equation modeling method. Our results indicated that the models achieved more than 60% of the overall explanatory power of various environmental factors on phytoplankton characteristics, including indirect and direct effects. In particular, light, pH, and nutrient content and ratios commonly control phytoplankton dynamic characteristics rather than a single nutrient, but light is the main driving force of phytoplankton community characteristics. Controlling the underwater light conditions, and nitrogen and phosphorus pollution load could effectively regulate algal blooms, increase productivity, promote ecological balance, and reduce water pollution. Our findings provide a scientific and theoretical basis for water resource management and pollution control.
Original languageEnglish
Article number124633
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Early online date30 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


  • phytoplankton community
  • gross primary productivity
  • biodiversity
  • environmental factor
  • Poyang Lake


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