Revista de Biología Tropical ISSN Impreso: 0034-7744 ISSN electrónico: 2215-2075

Revisiting the limnology of Lake Río Cuarto, Costa Rica, thirty-five years later


Limnología tropical
cambio climático
uso del suelo
Lago Río Cuarto
Tropical limnology
Climate change
Land use
Lake Río Cuarto.

How to Cite

Umaña-Villalobos, G., & Farah-Pérez, A. (2018). Revisiting the limnology of Lake Río Cuarto, Costa Rica, thirty-five years later. Revista De Biología Tropical, 66(S1), S42-S52.


Lake Río Cuarto is a meromictic lake at low elevation in the North of Costa Rica. It offers an opportunity to compare its present state with the condition it had when first studied in the late 1970’s and occasional samplings since then. This comparison expects to identify changes that could be attributed to incipient effects of global climate change. We studied the limnology and conditions of its drainage area for three years (2013-2016) to compare with previous data. Vertical profiles of temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity, pH, chlorophyll a, dissolved H2S were performed several times per year, for a total of 22 samplings. Aerial photographs taken since 1950 were analyzed to describe land use changes. The lake had a shallow Secchi depth (< 5 m) at all times. It was stratified on all occasions, with a thermocline that fluctuated between 10 and 20 m. It has a monimolimnion, with a chemocline at 14 to 22 m. Below the chemocline it was always anoxic, and during annual partial mixing events in the mixolimnion, oxygen levels decreased compared to stratified periods. There was a continuous presence of H2S from 20 m downwards, with annual fluctuations, being lower during partial mixing events. A peak in chlorophyll was detected on all occasions just below the thermocline. Land use around the lake hasn’t changed much since 1952, when only a rim of tree cover was left around the steep margins of the lake. The lake has maintained its limnological characteristics, with the only exception that it didn’t cooled down to historical levels. This limited response could be the result of the high relative depth and steep margins of the lake, which prevent the downward distribution of heat and keeps the lake in a meromictic state, preventing its mixing for long periods of time.


Alfaro, E., & Amador, J. A. (1996). El Niño-Oscilación del

Sur y algunas series de temperatura máxima y brillo

solar en Costa Rica. Tópicos Meteorologicos y Oceanograficos, 3, 19-26.

Alvarado, G. E., Soto, G. J., Salani, F. M., Ruiz, P., & de

Mendoza, L. H. (2011). The formation and evolution

of Hule and Río Cuarto maars, Costa Rica. Journal

of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 201, 342-


Alvarado, L. F., Contreras, W., Alfaro, M., & Jiménez,

E. (2012). Escenarios de cambio climático regionalizados para Costa Rica. San José, Costa Rica:


Boehrer, B., & Schultze, M. (2010). Density stratification

and stability. In G. E. Likens (Ed.). Lake ecosystem

ecology: a global perspective (pp. 96-106). Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier.

Bosshard, P.P., Santini, Y., Grüter, D., Sttetler, R., &

Bachofen, R. (2000). Bacterial diversity and community composition in the chemocline of the meromictic

alpine Lake Cadagno as revealed by 16S rDNA

analysis. FEMS Microbial Ecology, 3,. 173-182.

Charpentier, C., Tabash, F. A., Fallas, I. A., Zumbado, J.

C., Camacho, L., & Ramírez, E. (1988). Variación

estacional en el lago de Río Cuarto, provincia de

Alajuela, Costa Rica. I. Limnología físico-química.

Uniciencia, 5(1/2), 77-85.

Cloern, J. E., Cole, B. E., & Oremland, R. S. (1983).

Seasonal changes in the chemistry and biology of

a meromictic lake (Big Soda Lake, Nevada, USA).

Hydrobiologia, 105, 195-206.

Comité Regional de Recursos Hidráulicos. (2008). El clima, su variabilidad y cambio climático en Costa Rica.

San José, Costa Rica: MINAET-IMN-PNUD-CRRH.

DeStasio, B. T. Jr., Hill, D. K., Kleinhans, J. M., Nibbelink,

N. P., & Magnuson, J. J. (1996). Potential effects

of global climate change on small north-temperate

lakes: physics, fish and plankton. Limnology and

Oceanography, 41, 1136-1149.

Consultoría Ecológica y Técnica de Costa Rica (ECOTEC).

(2009). Diagnóstico biofísico para Costa Rica. Informe Final. San José, Costa Rica: IMN-PNUD-MINAE.

Effler, S. W., Wagner, B. A., O’Donnell, S. M., Matthews,

D. A., O’Donnell, D. M., Gelda, … Cowen, E. A. (2004). An upwelling event at Onondaga Lake, NY:

characterization, impact and recurrence. Hydrobiologia, 511, 185-199.

Gocke, K., Bussing, W., & Cortés, J. (1987). Morphometric

and basic limnological properties of the Laguna de

Río Cuarto, Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical,

(2), 277-285.

Gocke, K., Bussing, W., & Cortés, J. (1990). The annual

cycle of primary productivity in Laguna de Río Cuarto. Revista de Biología Tropical, 38(2B), 387-394.

Gómez, I. E., & Fernandez, W. (1996). Variación interanual de la temperatura en Costa Rica. Tópicos Meteorologicos y Oceanograficos, 3, 27-44.

Haberyan, K., & Horn, S. P. (1999). Chemical and physical

characteristics of seven volcanic lakes in Costa Rica.

Brenesia, 51, 85-95.

Haberyan, K, Horn, S. P., & Umaña, G. (2003). Limnology

of fifty-one lakes in Costa Rica. Revista de Biología

Tropical, 51, 107-122.

Hecky, R. E., Bugenyi, F. W. B., Ochumba, P., Talling, J.

F., Mugidae, R., Gophen, M., Kaufman, L. (1994).

Deoxygenation of the deep water of Lake Victoria, East Africa. Limnology and Oceanography, 39,


Horn, S. P., & Haberyan, K. A. (1993). Physical and

chemical properties of Costa Rican lakes. National

Geographic Research and Exploration, 9(1), 86-103.

Infante, A. de, Infante, O., Marquéz, M., Lewis, W. M.

Jr., & Weibezahn, F. H. (1979). Conditions leading

to mass mortality of fish and zooplankton in Lake

Valencia, Venezuela. Acta Científica Venezolana,

, 67-73.

Jeppesen, E., Kronvang, B., Olesen, J. E., Audet, J.,

Søndergaard, M., Hoffmann, C. C., … Özkan, K.

(2011). Climate change effects on nitrogen loading

from cultivated catchments in Europe: implications

for nitrogen retention, ecological estate of lakes and

adaptation. Hydrobiologia, 663, 1-21.

Kalff, R. (2002). Limnology, inland water ecoystems. New

Jersey, USA: Prentice Hall.

Kohkemper, M. J. (1954). Bosquejo limnológico de la

Laguna del Misterio (Licenciatura’s thesis). San José,

Costa Rica: Universidad de Costa Rica.

Lewis, W. M. Jr. (1973). The thermal regime of Lake

Lanao (Phillipines) and its theoretical implications

for tropical lakes. Limnology and Oceanography,

, 200-217.

Lewis, W. M. (1983). A revised classification of lakes

based on mixis. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and

Aquatic Sciences, 40, 1779-1787.

Lewis, W. M., Jr. (1987). Tropical limnology. Annual

Review of Ecology and Systematics, 18, 159-184.

Lorke, A., Tietze, K., Halbwachs, M., & Wüest, A. (2004).

Response of Lake Kivu stratification to lava flow and

climate warming. Limnology and Oceanography, 49,


Melack, J. M., & Jellison, R. (1998). Limnological conditions in Mono Lake: contrasting monomixis and

meromixis in the 1990’s. Hydrobiologia, 384, 21-29.

O’Reilly, C. M., Alin, S. R., Plisnier, P. D., Cohen, A. S.,

& McKnee, B. A. (2003). Climate change decreases

aquatic ecosystem productivity of Lake Tanganyika,

Africa. Nature, 424, 766-768.

Özkan, K., Jeppesen, E., Davidson, T. A., Bjerring, R.,

Johansson, L. S., Søndergaard, M., … Svenning, J.

C. (2016). Long-term trends and temporal synchrony

in plankton richness, diversity and biomass driven

by re-oligotrophication and climate across 17 Danish

lakes. Water, 8, 427. Doi: 10.3390/w8100427.

Parsons, T. R., Maita, Y., & Lalli, C. M. (1984). A manual

of chemical and biological methods for seawater

analysis. Oxford, England: Pergamon Press.

Plisnier, P. D. (2000). Recent climate and limnological

changes in lake Tanganika. Verhandlung der Internationalis Vereiningung Limnologie, 27, 1-4.

Porter, K. G., Saunders, P. A., Haberyan, K. A., & Macubbin, A. E. (1996). Annual cycle of autotrophic and

heterotrophic production in a small, monomictic

Piedmont lake (Lake Oglethorpe): Analog for the

effects of climatic warming on dimictic lakes. Limnology and Oceanography, 41, 1041-1051.

Rogozir, D. Y., Genova, S. N., Gulati, R. D., & Degermendzhy, A. G. (2010). Some generalizations based on stratification and vertical mixing in meromictic Lake Shira, Russia, in the period 2002-2009. Aquatic Biology, 44, 485-496. DOI: 10.1007/s10452-010-9328-6.

Soto-Mayor, C., & Ortiz-Malavasi, E. (Eds.). (2008). Atlas

digital de Costa Rica. Cartago, Costa Rica: Instituto

Tecnológico de Costa Rica.

Taillefert, M., Lienemann, C. P., Gaillard, J. F., & Perret, D.

(2000). Speciation, reactivity, and cycling of Fe and

Pb in a meromictic lake. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 64(2), 169-183.

Tonolla, M., Peduzzi, S., Demarta, A., Peduzzi, R., &

Hahn, D. (2004). Phototrophic sulfide and sulfatereducing bacteria in the chemocline of meromictic

Lake Cadagno, Switzerland. Journal of Limnology,

, 161-170.

Umaña, G. (1985). Phytoplankton species diversity of 27

lakes and ponds of Costa Rica (Central America)

(Master’s thesis). Saint Catherines, Canada: Brock


Umaña, G. (2014). Ten years of limnological monitoring of a modified natural lake in the tropics: Cote

Lake, Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical, 62,


Umaña, G. (2016). One year weekly dynamics of limnological conditions and phytoplankton in Lake

Bonilla, Costa Rica. Revista de Biología Tropical,

, 1771-1781.

Verburg, P., Hecky, R. E., & Kling, H. (2003). Ecological

consequences of a century of warming in Lake Tanganyika. Science, 301, 505-507.

Wetzel, R. G. (2001). Limnology, lake and river ecosystems. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Winder, M., & Hunter, D. A. (2008). Temporal organization of phytoplankton communities linked to physical forcing. Oecologia, 156, 179-192.



Download data is not yet available.