Development of the phytoplankton community in a pit-lake in relation to water quality changes

Margarete Kalin, Yong Cao, Martin Smith, Mary M. Olaveson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An open pit-lake was formed at a Northern Saskatchewan mine site after flooding with lake water in early 1992. Since then, water and phytoplankton samples have been collected regularly from the artificial lake over seven years. The resulting data set provides a unique opportunity to examine the physical and chemical changes in water quality and phytoplankton community over time. Seventeen major variables were examined in a principal component analysis. Axes 1, 2 and 4 are significantly correlated to other three variables, the number of days (since the first sampling after flooding of the pit), water temperature and depth, respectively. Total suspended solid (TSS), dissolved oxygen, total phosphorus (Total-P), arsenic, and iron decreased over time while Mg, Ca, K, Na, total organic carbon and HCO3 increased. Canonical correspondence analysis was used to infer the relationship between water quality variables and phytoplankton community structure, which changed substantially over the survey period. TSS, Total-P and arsenic were considered to be the key factors driving the change in phytoplankton community composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3215-3225
Number of pages11
JournalWater Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological monitoring
  • Mining impact
  • Multivariate analysis
  • Phytoplankton community
  • Pit-lake
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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