ECOTOXICOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY, vol.228, 2021 (SCI-Expanded)
Urban lakes are important natural assets but are exposed to multiple stressors from human activities. Submersed macrophytes, a key plant group that helps to maintain clear-water conditions in lakes, tend to be scarce in urban lakes, particularly when they are eutrophic or hypertrophic, and their loss is linked, in part, to impaired underwater light climate. We tested if enhancing the underwater light conditions using light-emitting diodes (LEDs) could restore submersed macrophytes in urban lakes. Twelve mesocosms (1000 L each) were each planted with tape grass (Vallisneria natans) and monitored over three months (22 August-7 November), using a control and three artificial light intensity treatments (10, 50, and 100 mu mol m-2 s-1). Compared with the control, the high light treatment (100 mu mol m-2 s-1) had higher leaf number, maximum leaf length, and average leaf length (3.9, 5.8, and 2.8 times, respectively). Shoot number, leaf number, leaf dry mass, root dry mass, and photosynthetic photon flux density in the high-light treatment were significantly greater than the control, but root length and phytoplankton chlorophyll a were not related to plant growth variables and were low in all treatments. Periphyton chlorophyll a increased significantly with the plant growth variables (i.e., shoot number, leaf number, and maximum leaf length) and was high in the light treatments but did not hamper the growth of the macrophytes. These results indicate that LED light supplementation enables the growth of V. natans under eutrophic conditions, at least in the absence of fish as in our experiment, and that the method may have potential as a restoration method in urban lakes. Lake-scale studies are needed, however, to fully evaluate LED light supplementation under natural conditions where other stressors (e.g., fish grazing) may need to be controlled for successful restoration of urban lakes.