Keywords: biogeochemical indicators, environmental sustainability, lake systems, limnology, sustainability, Brazil, sustainable development, land use policies, lakes
Environmental sustainability at the hierarchical level of lake systems
This paper argues that some determinants of environmental sustainability may be illuminated by examining temporal and geographic variation across lake systems. Typically, lakes respond to both transient and more permanent environmental changes, natural or anthropogenic, and the results of these variations are usually recorded by a diverse set of in-lake indicators. Cause and effect relationships from such complex environmental interactions can be evaluated from physical, chemical and biological data related to lake structure and function. Given the wide distribution of such systems over the planet, we emphasise their potential application not only to local/regional, but also to global scales. Objectively, a local case study is described (Cima Lake, Brazil), and we highlight the potential contribution of lake ecosystems as a repository of extensive environmental information. The method has the potential to be useful to analyse environmental sustainability and to improve the knowledge base for land-use policies.