Arctic birds can help fertilize Taimyr lakes

Arctic birds can help fertilize Taimyr lakes

September 09, 2022

Scientists spoke about the summer expedition results.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In Taimyr, the first stage of an expedition to collect data to study the possibility of restoring water quality and increasing the Arctic lakes productivity by guanotrophication has been completed.

Recall that in November 2021, RAS corresponding member, the RAS SB Biophysical Physics Institute’s Experimental Hydroecology Laboratory head, the Siberian Federal University’s Aquatic and Terrestrial Ecosystems department’s head, the Arctic Development Project Office (PORA) expert on aquatic ecosystems Mikhail Gladyshev proposed to explore the possibility of using guanotrophication on the Taimyr lakes.

The method essence is to introduce natural fertilizer obtained from near-water birds into the water. This will lead to an increase in the abundance of beneficial microalgae that form the food chain basis for valuable fish species. The scientist made this proposal at the PORA discussion club meeting, where specialists and representatives of the environmental community discussed the problems of restoring disturbed freshwater ecosystems in the Arctic.

“Artificial guanotrophication can be considered as an environmentally friendly technology for restoring water quality in dystrophic water bodies (for example, lake Pyasino) with a mandatory reduction in external anthropogenic load. Guanotrophication can contribute to an increase in the number of valuable commercial fish species, which directly depends on the quantity and quality of the microalgae primary production”, Gladyshev explained.

An alternative way to artificially increase the water bodies productivity – mineral fertilizers introduction into the water – is dangerous because it can cause cyanobacteria blooming or filamentous algae increasing. With such phenomena, reservoirs look unaesthetic and many species of fish also disappear in them, scientists say.

According to scientists, the tasks of the expedition in the hydrobiological and ornithological areas were completed by 100 percent: water samples were taken from 21 lakes for analysis for nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus and phytoplankton. All samples from Norilsk were sent to the RAS SB Biophysics Institute laboratories, where the phytoplankton samples laboratory processing and other analyzes will be carried out. Based on the these studies results, a plan for further action will be developed.

About the ornithological component of the expedition, a researcher at the Bird Ringing Center of Russia at the RAS Ecology and Evolution Institute named after A.N. Severtsov, Biological Sciences candidate Sofia Rosenfeld told:

“We caught, marked with transmitters and ringed seven tundra bean goose and one white-fronted goose, all the birds are nesting, local, Taimyr. Also marked 13 small swans. The transmitters, we hope, will give us information about the migration routes and wintering grounds of the main hunting mass geese species and the lesser swan, which is actively increasing in numbers”.

In addition, aerial surveys of moulting geese were carried out in the lake Pyasino delta and in the Tareya river mouth area. In the future, using these materials, it will be possible to calculate the breeding birds percentage in the population, the average size of broods, and other parameters that are important for monitoring anseriformes. The scientists collected material for a popular science film about Taimyr. An aerial survey of wild reindeer and musk ox was carried out. Next year, the expedition members plan to continue marking and conducting aerial surveys of anseriform birds.

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Text: Angelica Stepanova, Photo: PORA

September 09, 2022

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