University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture


Internal phosphorus (P) loading may influence primary production in lakes, but the influence of sediment-derived P has not been well studied in Beaver Lake of Northwest Arkansas. Soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP), dissolved organic P (DOP), and total dissolved P (TDP) sediment-water fluxes were determined using intact sediment cores collected from deepwater environments in the riverine, transition zone, and lacustrine zones of Beaver Lake. The SRP, DOP, and TDP fluxes were also estimated from cores collected from shallow locations in the transition zone. There was a net positive SRP (0.001 – 0.005 µg P cm-2 h-1), DOP (0.005 – 0.01 µg P cm-2 h-1), and TDP (0.005 – 0.01 µg P cm-2 h-1) flux from deepwater sediments into the water column. However, DOP and TDP flux in shallow sediments were net negative (-0.004 and -0.002 µg P cm-2 h-1, respectively), suggesting that the majority of P was moving from water into sediment. The SRP flux from shallow sediments in the transition zone was similar to rates observed in deepwater sediments (0.002 µg P cm-2 h-1). However, the variability among flux rates, sites and depths was high, and therefore no statistical differences were found. Sediment oxygen demand was positively correlated with SRP and DOP flux rates from shallow transition zone sediments suggesting that microbial biomass and activity may have influenced sediment P flux. The P flux from shallow sediments supports approximately 1% to 5% of the daily P demand of phytoplankton. When compared to other lakes, sediment P flux in Beaver Lake appears minimal and is probably not an effective avenue to manage eutrophication in this system.