The key role of the chemolimnion in meromictic cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Olmo Torres-Talamante, Javier Alcocer*, Patricia A. Beddows, Elva G. Escobar-Briones, Alfonso Lugo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study tests the ecological and physico-chemical effect of sharp density boundaries of meromictic lakes. The investigation was carried out in Nohoch Hol, an anchialine meromictic cenote situated 2.0 km inland from the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. In situ physico-chemical parameters were recorded with a water quality datalogger at depth intervals of 0.5 m. In addition, seven water samples for determination of nutrients, bacterioplankton and phytoplankton in the water column were obtained using SCUBA. Bacterioplankton and phytoplankton densities are low, with concentrations consistent with the oligo-to ultraoligotrophic status of Nohoch Hol indicated by the low nutrient concentrations. The phytoplankton was dominated by the chlorophyte Scenedesmus. Maximum concentrations of bacterio-and phytoplankton were found at 10.0 m depth, the top of the chemolimnion. The similarity analysis clustered the samples in three defined groups: (a) the mixolimnion, (b) the mid-and bottom of the chemolimnion and the monimolimnion, and (c) the top of the chemolimnion. The principal component analysis explained over 85% of the total variance in two components (PC). PC1 was related to turbidity and the aggregation of the chlorophytes at the top of the chemolimnion. PC2 was related to dissolved oxygen and the accumulation of filamentous and total bacteria also at the top of the chemolimnion. The top of the chemolimnion acts as a boundary within the water column to the exchange of dissolved and particulate matter between the mixo and the monimolimnion and as an ecological zone with a crucial role in the biogeochemistry of Nohoch Hol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-127
Number of pages21
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Anchialine
  • Anoxia
  • Bacterioplankton
  • Karst
  • Nutrients
  • Phytoplankton
  • Sinkhole
  • Tropical lake

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


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