Light climate and phytoplankton photosynthesis in maritime Antarctic lakes
The responses of phytoplankton populations to seasonal changes in radiation flux in two Antarctic lakes with extensive winter ice-cover are described. A phytoplankton capable of photosynthesis was found throughout the year in both systems. During winter, low incident radiation combined with thick layers of snow and ice prevented in situ photosynthesis becoming detectable. The beginning of spring was marked by a reduction in snow cover which resulted in a considerable increase in surface penetrating radiation. Planktonic algae rapidly adapted to utilise these increased levels efficiently, though they still showed characteristics of strong shade adaptation. Loss of ice cover at the start of the short open water period further increased the radiation levels and a summer population developed which was much less shade adapted. Saturation and photoinhibition effects were widespread during this period as the algae proved unable to utilise high radiation levels efficiently. They were however effective at the radiation fluxes prevalent in the lower part of the rapidly circulating water columns.