1. We describe some remarkable ephemeral, oligotrophic hardwater lakes formed becauseof land rise in the coastal areas of the Baltic Sea, that are unique in Sweden and probablyalso worldwide. Two younger, coastal lakes were studied by regular sampling for 1 yearand compared with an older (i.e. greater altitude) lake, that passed through theoligotrophic hardwater stage some 3–4000 years ago.
2. Despite some differences in composition of the catchment, the two younger lakes weresimilar with regard to water chemistry and plankton community composition. Theconcentration of phosphorus was low while nitrogen was high, resulting in very high N/Pquotients (101 and 131). Although water colour was moderate, the concentration of organiccarbon was extremely high (average values of ‡ 20 lg TOC L–1), consisting mainly ofdissolved compounds (DOC).
3. While the plankton was poorly developed, sediments in both lakes were covered by alayer of photosynthesising micro-organisms. This substantial 'microbial mat', which hasnot been described in detail before, was up to 15 cm thick and dominated by cyanobacteriaand purple sulphur bacteria. The concentration of sediment phosphorus was extremelylow (352 lg g–1 dw) in one of the lakes and dominated by organic-bound (residual)phosphorus.
4. Deep sediments in the older lake, representing its oligotrophic hardwater period,differed in phosphorus composition from the currently oligotrophic hardwater lakes byhaving a strong dominance of HCl-extractable (Ca-bound) phosphorus. This indicates thatphosphorus, initially organic-bound within the microbial mat, is subsequently bound tocalcium. We hypothesise that this is promoted by the environmental conditions created bythe benthic photosynthetic activity, in combination with the prevailing hardwaterconditions.
5. The rich and flourishing microbial community on the sediments may also explain thehigh concentration of DOC in the lake.
2002. Vol. 47, no 8, 1451-1462 p.