The natural function of a like is driven by factors often described as inputs and outputs. Inputs include light (solar ultraviolet radiation), precipitation and atmospheric deposition, surface runoff (nutrients) including weathering of soils and bedrock providing calcium and other minerals, and groundwater discharge. Outputs include surface flow from the lake, evaporation from the water body and aquatic plants, and groundwater recharge.

Physical lake features, or lake morphometry, such as basin depth, surface area, and volume directly influence how the inputs are cycled and will determine the ecology of the lake environment. Processes within the lake such as mixing, heat absorption, and primary production are greatly influenced by all the above factors and together determine which community of organisms (e.g. algae) are found within the lake. Other influences on lakes include the introduction of invasive species, changes in weather patterns, and shoreline development.

Lake are dynamic systems that can reveal seasonal changes and host different communities of organisms within the local habitat. Sometimes these changes can stimulate the natural growth of algae, plants, bacteria, and microscopic organisms that may often be confused for pollution or other odd phenomena in the lake environment. Check out our fact sheet ‘What’s in the Water?’ for a summary of some common lake sightings that often raise questions in the Cataraqui Region.

how a lake functions