Gravel pit lakes in Denmark: chemical and biological state.
Mining of gravel and sand for construction purposes is big business and gravel pit lakes have become increasingly common all over the world. In Denmark, hundreds of gravel pit lakes have been created during the past decades. We investigated the chemical and biological status of 33-52 gravel pit lakes and compared the results with data from similar-sized natural Danish lakes. The area of the lakes ranged from 0.2 to 13 ha and their age from 0.5 to 26 years. Generally, the gravel pit lakes were clear with low nutrient concentrations, the median concentrations of total phosphorus and total nitrogen being 0.023 mg/l and 0.30 mg/l compared with 0.115 mg/l and 1.29 mg/l, respectively, in natural lakes. Correspondingly, median chlorophyll a was 5 µg/l in the gravel pit lakes and 36 µg/l in the natural lakes. Submerged macrophytes were found in all gravel pit lakes, with particularly high cover in the shallow ones. Most gravel pit lakes were deeper than the natural lakes, which may restrict the area potentially to be covered by submerged macrophytes, with implications also for the biological quality of the lakes. Fish were found in most of the gravel pit lakes, roach (Rutilus rutilus), perch (Perca fluviatilis) and rudd (Scardinius erythrophalmus) being the most frequently observed species. Fish stocking was common and included also non-native species such as carp (Cyprinus carpio) and rainbow trout (Oncorchynchus mykiss). Compared with the natural lakes, fish species richness and catch per gillnet were overall lower in the gravel pit lakes. Groundwater-fed gravel pit lakes add importantly to the number of high-quality lakes in Denmark and with an optimised design and by avoiding negative side effects, they can be positive for both nature and society.