A statistically significant association was found between the concentration of total microcystin, a common class of cyanotoxins, in surface waters of lakes and reservoirs in the continental U.S. with watershed land use using data from 1156 water bodies sampled between May and October 2007 as part of the USEPA National Lakes Assessment. Nearly two thirds (65.8%) of the samples with microcystin concentrations ≥1.0 μg/L (n = 126) were limited to three nutrient and water quality-based ecoregions (Corn Belt and Northern Great Plains, Mostly Glaciated Dairy Region, South Central Cultivated Great Plains) in watersheds with strong agricultural influence. canonical correlation analysis (CCA) indicated that both microcystin concentrations and cyanobacteria abundance were positively correlated with total nitrogen, dissolved organic carbon, and temperature; correlations with total phosphorus and water clarity were not as strong. This study supports a number of regional lake studies that suggest that land use practices are related to cyanobacteria abundance, and extends the potential impacts of agricultural land use in watersheds to include the production of cyanotoxins in lakes.
Additional publication details
Land use patterns, ecoregion, and microcystin relationships in U.S. lakes and reservoirs: a preliminary evaluation