Rapid climate changes may potentially have strong impacts on the ecosystem structure and nutrient dynamics of lakes as well as implications for water quality. We used a space-for-time approach to elucidate such possible effects by comparing data from 1656 shallow lakes (mean depth <3 m) in north temperate Denmark (DK) and subtropical Florida (FL). The lakes were categorized into 7 total phosphorus (TP) classes within the range of 2 to 300 mu g L-1. Physicochemical variables showed significant seasonal differences, which can be attributed to different sunlight regimes and temperatures. The FL lakes had overall higher fish biomasses (notably in the littoral zone) but a substantially lower zooplankton biomass and body mass of microcrustaceans, a much lower zooplankton:phytoplankton biomass ratio (lower grazing on phytoplankton), and a markedly lower biomass of benthic invertebrates, indicating much greater control of consumers by fish in the FL lakes. Accordingly, the summer phytoplankton biomass was higher in the FL lakes. Cyanobacteria in summer were proportionally more important in the FL lakes at all TP levels, whereas the proportion of dinophytes, chrysophytes, and cryptophytes was higher in the DK lakes at low TP. Submerged macrophytes occurred at higher TP (>100 mu g L-1) in the FL lakes, but coverage was higher in the DK lakes at low TP. We also found lower oxygen saturation in the nutrient-rich FL lakes than in the DK lakes, suggesting lower net ecosystem production in the FL lakes. We discuss our results within the framework of climate warming.