Environmental Issues
Ecology and Bionomics

What is eutrophication?

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January 24, 2017 5:24AM


Eutrophication is a process in which bodies of water (lakes, ponds, and rivers) receive excess nutrients that stimulate excessive growth of algae. The two most common nutrients that initiate eutrophication are nitrogen and phosphorous, two limiting nutrients in the growth of algae. These two nutrients are usually introduced to the body of water through fertilizer run-off.

The uncontrolled growth of algae and their subsequent descent into the depths of the body of water stimulates an active benthic community (bacteria), which depletes oxygen levels due to respiration. The algae may also cover the surface of the water, reducing the amount of light that penetrates into the photic zone, decreasing photosynthesis in aquatic autotrophs. The decreased level of dissolved oxygen can result in the death of any number of larger communities.

See related links below for more information about eutrophication and the effect it has on the ecosystem.