Models to predict total phosphorus concentrations in coastal embayments of eastern Georgian Bay, Lake Huron

Campbell, S.D. and Chow-Fraser, P.
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
2018, Vol 75: 1798-1810


Several coastal embayments of eastern Georgian Bay show signs of water-quality impairment thought to be caused by human activities. Here, we evaluate the ability of the Lakeshore Capacity Model (LCM), developed for Precambrian Shield lakes,to assess the impact of cottage development on the trophic status of ten Georgian Bay embayments. The LCM could only be applied to eight embayments due to the large size and complexity of two watersheds and produced unacceptably high estimates of mean seasonal total phosphorus concentrations ([TP]; i.e., exceeded 20% of measured values for five of eight embayments); accuracy of [TP] estimates could not be improved by accounting for internal phosphorus loading. We developed an additional model, the Anthro-Geomorphic Model (AGM), which uses building density and basin morphometry as variables. Estimates of [TP] for the AGM were within 20% of measured values for all sites. Compared with other aquatic systems, coastal embayments of Georgian Bay have significantly higher chlorophyll a concentrations per unit [TP]; we suggest that the TP–chlorophyll relationship presented in this study be used to estimate productivity in these systems.