Cyanobacteria blooms can complicate the economical or recreational use of waters. Many of the bloom forming species are also potential producers of harmful cyanotoxins. The standard method for quantifying phytoplankton biomass, based on inverted microscopy, has high accuracy and is the only one producing biomass results on taxonomic level, but it requires specialized expertise and is time-consuming. Phycocyanin (PC) pigment concentration has been proven as a useful proxy for the concentration of cyanobacteria. Since 2006, we have studied practical solutions of in-situ monitoring of cyanobacteria using PC fluorescence probes. We have studied two eutrophic lakes, Lake Littoistenjärvi and Lake Kuralanjärvi in southwestern Finland using stationary monitoring stations equipped with PC probes. The fluorescence results were compared to independent water samples analyzed using standard methods. The PC fluorescence was positively correlated to cyanobacteria biomass in both lakes. Using site-specific post-calibrations of biomass, PC fluorescence can be used to estimate the absolute biomass of cyanobacteria. The monitoring techniques used in these studies are an applicable and relatively low-cost method to monitor cyanobacteria abundance. With nearly real-time data transfer possibilities, they can be used in management and early warning applications to minimize the harmful effects of cyanobacteria blooms.

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