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Acceleration of cyanobacterial dominance in north temperate-subarctic lakes during the Anthropocene

Taranu, Zofia E.; Gregory-Eaves, Irene; Leavitt, Peter R.; Bunting, Lynda; Buchaca, Teresa; Catalan, Jordi; Domaizon, Isabelle; Guilizzoni, Piero; Lami, Andrea; McGowan, Suzanne; Moorhouse, Heather; Morabito, Giuseppe; Pick, Frances R.; Stevenson, Mark A.; Thompson, Patrick L.; Vinebrooke, Rolf D.


Zofia E. Taranu

Irene Gregory-Eaves

Peter R. Leavitt

Lynda Bunting

Teresa Buchaca

Jordi Catalan

Isabelle Domaizon

Piero Guilizzoni

Andrea Lami

Suzanne McGowan

Heather Moorhouse

Giuseppe Morabito

Frances R. Pick

Mark A. Stevenson

Patrick L. Thompson

Rolf D. Vinebrooke


Punidan Jeyasingh


© 2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd/CNRS. Increases in atmospheric temperature and nutrients from land are thought to be promoting the expansion of harmful cyanobacteria in lakes worldwide, yet to date there has been no quantitative synthesis of long-term trends. To test whether cyanobacteria have increased in abundance over the past ~ 200 years and evaluate the relative influence of potential causal mechanisms, we synthesised 108 highly resolved sedimentary time series and 18 decadal-scale monitoring records from north temperate-subarctic lakes. We demonstrate that: (1) cyanobacteria have increased significantly since c. 1800 ce, (2) they have increased disproportionately relative to other phytoplankton, and (3) cyanobacteria increased more rapidly post c. 1945 ce. Variation among lakes in the rates of increase was explained best by nutrient concentration (phosphorus and nitrogen), and temperature was of secondary importance. Although cyanobacterial biomass has declined in some managed lakes with reduced nutrient influx, the larger spatio-temporal scale of sedimentary records show continued increases in cyanobacteria throughout the north temperate-subarctic regions.


Taranu, Z. E., Gregory-Eaves, I., Leavitt, P. R., Bunting, L., Buchaca, T., Catalan, J., …Vinebrooke, R. D. (2015). Acceleration of cyanobacterial dominance in north temperate-subarctic lakes during the Anthropocene. Ecology Letters, 18(4), 375-384.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 22, 2015
Online Publication Date Feb 26, 2015
Publication Date 2015-04
Deposit Date Sep 27, 2017
Journal Ecology Letters
Print ISSN 1461-023X
Electronic ISSN 1461-0248
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 18
Issue 4
Pages 375-384
Public URL
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: