Article Type

Full Research Article – Special Issue






Freshwater lakes provide valuable recreational and tourism resources and are a major source of municipal drinking water for local communities. A primary management goal for lake systems is the maintenance of good water quality and a healthy aquatic ecosystem. Blooms of harmful or noxious species of cyanobacteria can result in severe water quality degradation. The purpose of this project was to provide baseline data on phytoplankton community composition, with special emphasis on cyanobacteria, and water quality parameters for Lake Murray, SC. The objective of this study was to determine the annual cyanobacterial contribution to total phytoplankton biomass in the lower reaches of Lake Murray. Measurements for this study were obtained at weekly to biweekly intervals from May 2021 to August 2022 on the northeast side of Lake Murray Dam, SC. Phytoplankton community composition was determined using a combination of high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and ChemTax methods to measure the relative abundances of different algal groups. The phytoplankton community in Lake Murray is composed of a diverse assemblage of primarily green algae, diatoms, cyanobacteria, cryptophytes, and dinoflagellates. Community structure varied seasonally and annually. Total phytoplankton biomass remained below 7 μg of chl a l-1 and never reached “bloom” proportions (e.g., > 40 μg of chl a l-1). Planktonic cyanobacteria were present year-round in the lower reaches of Lake Murray and comprised 5–40% of the total phytoplankton biomass. Peaks in cyanobacteria abundance occurred during the late summer months. Even at the peak in August 2021, concentrations of cyanobacteria were low (1.79 μg chl a l-1). Over annual cycles, cyanobacteria had a median chl a concentration of 0.63 μg l-1 and a median contribution of 14.9%. Although we were unable to identify any specific causal mechanisms for the fluctuations in cyanobacterial biomass, we demonstrated that cyanobacteria are a consistent component of the phytoplankton community in lower Lake Murray. Baseline measures of phytoplankton during “good” water quality conditions provide invaluable data essential for managers to establish criteria for early prediction of bloom events and evaluate the effectiveness of mitigation strategies. Departures from the norm, especially during the summer and early fall, may signal the beginning of a cyanobacterial (or other algal group) bloom and provide an early warning for recreational users and municipal water intakes.





To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.