Difference between Oligotrophic and Eutrophic Lakes


characteristics of lake ecosystem

Oligotrophic vs Eutrophic Lakes
Similarities and Difference between Oligotrophic vs Eutrophic Lakes / Ponds

Lake Ecosystem is an example for a lentic ecosystem. An aquatic ecosystem with stationary or relatively still water is called lentic ecosystem. Based on the trophic state* and productivity, the lake ecosystem is divided into three categories.

(1). Oligotrophic lakes

(2). Eutrophic lakes

(3). Mesotrophic lakes

(1). Oligotrophic lake: a lake with low productivity, low nutrients and clear water with drinking water quality.

(2). Eutrophic lake: a lake with high productivity, high nutrients and with dark water. The water is usually not good for drinking purpose.

(3). Mesotrophic lake: a lake with intermediate nutrient level and productivity.

This post describes the similarities and differences between an Oligotrophic Lake Ecosystem and a Eutrophic Lake Ecosystem as a comparison table.

Similarities between Oligotrophic and Eutrophic Lakes / Ponds

Ø  Both are aquatic ecosystems.

Ø  Both are natural ecosystems.

Ø  Both contain biological and abiological components.

Ø  Water in both ecosystems is rich in oxygen.

Ø  Both are lentic ecosystems.

Ø  Both ecosystems show thermal stratification.

Difference between Oligotrophic and Eutrophic Lakes/Ponds

Sl. No.Oligotrophic LakesEutrophic Lakes
1Oligotrophic lakes are usually deep in depthEutrophic lakes are shallow in depth
2Poor nutrient content in the water especially nitrates and phosphatesHigh nutrient content in the water especially nitrates and phosphates
3Low primary productivityHigh primary productivity
4Oxygen rich water in the hypolimnionOxygen deficient water in hypolimnion
5High species diversity of green algae and low species diversity of blue green algaeLow species diversity of green algae and high species diversity of blue green algae
6Green algae dominate in the ecosystemBlue green algae dominate in the ecosystem
7# Carlson’s Trophic State Index: <30 – 40Carlson’s Trophic State Index: 50 – 70
8Chlorophyll content in the ecosystem: 0 – 2.6Chlorophyll content: 20 – 56
9Level of phosphate in the water: 0 – 12Level of phosphate: 24 – 96
10Low density of speciesHigh density of species
11Plant nutrient flux will be lowPlant nutrient flux will be high
12Algal blooms occur very rarelyAlgal blooms occur very frequently
13Clear waterWater usually dark due to the growth of algae
14Drinking water qualityWater may not good for drinking purpose due the high growth of algae
15Commonly occur in cold regionsUsually occurs in warmer regions
16Chance of eutrophication is lessChance of eutrophication is high

* Trophic State: total weight of biomass in a given water-body at the time of measurement.

# Carlson’s Trophic State Index: a measure of the trophic state of an ecosystem with a scale of 0 – 100. Low values for oligotrophic lakes and high values of eutrophic lakes


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