Departamento de Ecología, Genética y Evolución, Instituto IEGEBA (CONICET-UBA), Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires C1428EHA, Argentina. Electronic address: [Email]
The aim of the present research was to summarize the main reasons that explain the distribution of harmful blooms of cyanobacteria in Argentina. It is a large territory with climates ranging from humid tropical to cold temperate. We performed a meta-analysis of the published data and information in technical reports published from 1945 to 2015, and included additional data from personal non-published studies. A total of 122 water bodies affected by planktonic cyanobacterial blooms were recorded and geo-referenced. The analysis showed that blooms, defined as events exceeding 5000 cells/mL, occurred in different types of water bodies, including shallow lakes, rivers, streams, reservoirs, estuaries and storage facilities. Maximum bloom abundance and species and ecological strategies (dispersive, scum-forming, nitrogen fixer) responsible for each event were related to the geographic and climatologic characteristics and type and origin of water bodies. The Puna and the Andean Patagonia eco-regions were mostly free of blooms. The most impaired aquatic systems were shallow lakes and reservoirs (46.7 and 24.6%, respectively). Deep lakes had no reports of blooms and rivers were mainly affected at the regulated reaches, with intensities generally decreasing downstream the dams. Besides, 74.3% of the blooms reported in Argentina exceeded WHO Alert Level 2 for drinking and bathing waters (100,000 cells/mL). Thirty-nine species, identified by Komárek's polyphasic approach to taxonomy, were responsible for the blooms. Microcystis aeruginosa, Dolichospermum spiroides, Dolichospermum circinale, Raphidiopsis mediterranea and Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii were frequently found participating in either mixed or single species blooms. The species distribution was associated with the eco-region and aquatic system typologies and affected by seasonality and climatological and geographic variables. The eco-strategies of cyanobacterial species showed stronger associations with the qualitative and quantitative indicators used in the meta-analysis, and appeared as useful tools for management measures.