2015: Saline lake research in papers

At the end of the year, we make traditional review of research output on studies of saline lakes and salinity related questions. The Web of Science Core Collection is used as a database. The combined list of papers for topics “salt lakes”, saline lakes” and “salinity and lake” is the research output of the year.

This year the list is compiled of 668 papers that is more or less the same output that we analyzed previous year.

The most active country is USA, followed by China, Germany, Canada and Spain.


The most popular Web of Science Research Category is Geosciences Multidisciplinary.

WoS category

The most active organization is Chinese Academy of Sciences.


The most popular journal – International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.


This year the Web of Science introduced new metric – usage count. The Usage Count is a measure of the level of interest in a specific item on the Web of Science. The count reflects the number of times users click link to the full-length article at the publisher’s website (via direct link or Open-Url) or save the article for use in a bibliographic management tool (via direct export or in a format to be imported later).

The most frequently used paper of this year is the research by Erik Jeppesen with several coauthors who studied ecological impacts of global warming and water abstraction on lakes and reservoirs due to changes in water level and related changes in salinity. Based on long-term data from seven lakes and reservoirs at the Mediterranean climate zone authors discuss how changes in water level and salinity related to climate change and water abstraction affect the ecosystem structure, function, biodiversity and ecological. All case study lakes in the semi-arid Mediterranean region showed an increase in salinity/conductivity associated with a decline in lake water levels, increased hydraulic residence time and evaporation. Review shows that the biodiversity of most lake organism groups also declines with increasing salinity, and if the salinity increase is high (e.g. from freshwater to brackish levels) its effects may in some cases override all other environmental and pressure factors such as temperature or eutrophication. Finally, authors highlight research required to improve knowledge of the impacts of anthropogenically induced changes on lake water level and consequent changes in salinity.

Jeppesen, 2015

The top five papers for the year 2015 were selected based on impact factor of journal and my preferences.

Gary King from Louisiana State University study microbes from salty soil in the Atacama desert in Chili, the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah and a part of the big island in Hawaii. He found that the soil pull carbon monoxide out of the air and held onto it. Species responsible for this are two microbes (Halorubrum str. BV1 and Alkalilimnicola ehrlichii MLHE-1) that use carbon monoxide as an energy source. He suggests the same process could occur on Mars, as its atmosphere has more carbon monoxide in it than does ours. The point is that in order for life to have existed on Mars it would need an energy source. King suggests that carbon monoxide may hold the key to life on Mars. Thus, the salt tolerant earth bacteria that actively uptake CO in salt-saturated medium establishes the potential for microbial CO oxidation under conditions that might obtain at local scales on contemporary Mars and at larger spatial scales earlier in Mars’ history.

King 2015

Aharon Oren from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem discussed the microbial processes in high-salt environments. The progress in this area is due to application of state-of-the-art culture independent techniques of high-throughput sequencing and metagenomics and studies of unusual and previously unexplored hypersaline environments in Australia, Antarctica and in the deep sea. Studies of the metabolic potentials of different halophilic microorganisms, Archaea as well as Bacteria, shed light on the possibilities and the limitations of life at high salt concentrations, and also show their potential for applications in bioremediation.

Oren 2015

Dimitry Sorokin from Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology in Russia with coauthors reviewed functional microbiology of soda lakes. Despite the harsh conditions, soda lakes are inhabited by abundant, mostly prokaryotic, microbial communities. The review summarizes results of studies of main functional groups of the soda lake prokaryotes responsible for carbon, nitrogen and sulfur cycling, including oxygenic and anoxygenic phototrophs, aerobic chemolithotrophs, fermenting and respiring anaerobes. Even though the intensive microbiology and molecular ecology studies of the last years made the soda lakes one of the best-studied saline systems, there are still many questions to be answered. The most obvious include a possibility of anaerobic methane (ANME) and ammonium (anammox) oxidation, anaerobic CO conversions, aerobic methane and ammonium oxidation in hypersaline soda lakes, polymer hydrolysis in hypersaline soda lakes, syntrophism, and nitrogen fixation under aerobic conditions.

Sorokin 2015

Tyler Lewis from University of Alaska Fairbanks in USA with coauthors studied chemical response of Subarctic lakes to climate-driven losses in surface area. Research documented changes in nutrients and ions (calcium, chloride, magnesium, sodium) over a 25 year interval in shrinking, stable, and expanding Subarctic lakes of the Yukon Flats, Alaska. Concentrations of different solutes increased in shrinking lakes over the last 30 years, while simultaneously undergoing little change in stable or expanding lakes. This created a present-day pattern in which shrinking lakes had higher solute concentrations than their stable or expanding counterparts. The most conservative ion, chloride, increased >500% in shrinking lakes. Overall, the substantial increases of nutrients and ions may shift shrinking lakes towards overly eutrophic or saline states, with potentially severe consequences for ecosystems of northern lakes.

Lewis 2015

Adrian-Stefan Andrei from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania with coauthors described contrasting taxonomic stratification of microbial communities in two hypersaline meromictic lakes. Meromictic lakes are extreme environments in which water stratification is associated with physicochemical gradients and high salt concentrations. Authors compare the prokaryotic assemblages from Ursu and Fara Fund hypersaline meromictic lakes (Transylvanian Basin, Romania) and infer their role in elemental cycling by matching taxa to specific biogeochemical functions. The analyses showed that the lakes harbored multiple and diverse prokaryotic communities. Microbial populations indigenous to each lake pointed to similar physiological functions within carbon degradation and sulfate reduction. In spite of the high salinity, the Bacteria were found to be more diverse than Archaea, indicating that the current view on microbial diversity in hypersaline ecosystems needs to be broadened. Genetic sequencing of prokaryotic communities revealed a large proportion of operational taxonomic units with no close relatives, showing that these poorly investigated environments are potential sources of novel microorganisms. Further functional studies are needed to describe nutrient cycles near the thermodynamic limits of life.

Andrei 2015

The six mentioned papers (top five and the paper with highest usage count) covers two major topics that are traditionally important for saline lake studies. The first one is microbial diversity and variety of biogeochemical processes that can be studied at salt lakes. From extraterrestrial life to bioremediation of highly polluted waters – the saline bacteria can give answers and help. The second urgent topic is the sensitivity of saline lakes to climate change and water balance. Traditionally the topic was hot for shrinking saline lake. This is still the alarming problem for many lakes (e.g. Urmia Lake in Iran). However, the papers I select for this year review actually describe freshwater lakes (lakes in the semi-arid Mediterranean region, Subarctic lakes) that can shift towards saline state. It demonstrates that problems widely discussed by saline lake scientists soon might become relevant for wider circle of limnologists. I discussed earlier that freshwater and saline lake limnology are actually separate wings of the inland lake research. The global threat for lake ecosystems can bring these areas of research closer.

King GM (2015). Carbon monoxide as a metabolic energy source for extremely halophilic microbes: implications for microbial activity in Mars regolith. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112 (14), 4465-70 PMID: 25831529

Andrei AŞ, Robeson MS 2nd, Baricz A, Coman C, Muntean V, Ionescu A, Etiope G, Alexe M, Sicora CI, Podar M, & Banciu HL (2015). Contrasting taxonomic stratification of microbial communities in two hypersaline meromictic lakes. The ISME journal, 9 (12), 2642-56 PMID: 25932617

Oren, A. (2015). Halophilic microbial communities and their environments Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 33, 119-124 DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2015.02.005

Sorokin, D., Banciu, H., & Muyzer, G. (2015). Functional microbiology of soda lakes Current Opinion in Microbiology, 25, 88-96 DOI: 10.1016/j.mib.2015.05.004

Jeppesen, E., Brucet, S., Naselli-Flores, L., Papastergiadou, E., Stefanidis, K., Nõges, T., Nõges, P., Attayde, J., Zohary, T., Coppens, J., Bucak, T., Menezes, R., Freitas, F., Kernan, M., Søndergaard, M., & Beklioğlu, M. (2015). Ecological impacts of global warming and water abstraction on lakes and reservoirs due to changes in water level and related changes in salinity Hydrobiologia, 750 (1), 201-227 DOI: 10.1007/s10750-014-2169-x

Lewis TL, Lindberg MS, Schmutz JA, Heglund PJ, Rover J, Koch JC, & Bertram MR (2015). Pronounced chemical response of Subarctic lakes to climate-driven losses in surface area. Global change biology, 21 (3), 1140-52 PMID: 25294238

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The top saline lake research of 2014


The year 2014 was the specific year for saline lake research. First of all, because it was the year of triennial International Conference on Salt Lake Research. The meeting was held in China in July. I blogged about the conference before. Abstracts of the conference were published by the Acta Geologica Sinica, they can be downloaded and studied in details.

Now, it is time to analyze the research output. The traditional approach is to use the Web of Science and to make search for “salt lake or saline lake” and “salinity and lake”. The combined list of 690 papers published in year 2014 will be the database for brief analysis and selection of best papers. Continue reading

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12th International Conference on Salt Lake Research: summary and analysis of outcomes

The 12th International Conference on Salt Lake Research was successfully held on July 14–18, 2014 in China. The conference was jointly organized by the International Society for Salt Lake Research (ISSLR) and Research and Development Center for Saline Lake and Epithermal Deposit of the Institute of Mineral Resources (Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences).

Lake Qinghai. The largest lake in China

The ISSLR started the series of salt lake conferences in 1979, when the first event took place in Australia. Since then, every three years salt lake researchers have explored the world, meeting in various places rich with both salt lakes and saline lake science.

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2013: Saline lake research in papers

It’s time to sum up the research on saline lakes for the year 2013. The approach is the same as for the two previous years.


The database: Web of Science.
The timespan: Year 2013 (more papers will be added next months but they will be accounted next year).
Search: the combined list for two searches “salt lake or saline lake” and “salinity and lake”.

The result is 573 papers (with about 10% not relevant to saline lakes research). Thus, the final number is close to 500 papers. This is very small field of research in comparison with approximately 8000 papers on the search “lake”, 11000 – “ocean” or 21000 – “sea”. On the other hand I should be happy that the field is so small. It would be impossible to analyze more than 500 papers.


Soda lake Doroninskoe (Russia, Trans-Baikal region)

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The new water flea from acid saline lake


I am always surprised and puzzled by the world of systematic. Of course I know that it is very important to name another living creature. We need an inventory of life on Earth. We need to have common language. We need system to find out regularities. Etc… What is always surprise me – how fragile and, from my point of view, sometimes subjective the descriptive systematic looks like. I understand that those who spend years with microscopes can distinguish tiny differences between species. But still I am amazed how they judge about new species without genetic analysis and ecological studies.

Nevertheless, hundreds of papers describing new species are published every year. Actually the new species is not the reason for the post – this is just another new species. But the context of new result is sometimes more interesting (and important) than the result itself.

I would probably neglect paper describing “a new species of Cladocera, Extremalona timmsi that was found in acid saline lakes in the southwest of Western Australia” if not the familiar name of the new species.

Extremalona timmsi gen. nov., sp.

New species of crustacean

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2012: Salt lake research in papers

The year 2012 was a perfect year for salt lake research. If one decide to organize travel map based on salt lakes mentioned during the year in research papers he or she should visit all six continents and hard to survive places such as deserts, mountains or even lake under the Antarctic ice sheet. I decided to repeat analysis of  research activity similar to previous year.

The database used was Web of Science.
The timespan was Year 2012 (actually more papers for year 2012 will be added within next one-two months but that is good what is in time).
The topic I searched was (salt lake or saline lake).
The result is 359 papers.

Piles_of_Salt_Salar_de_Uyuni_Bolivia_Luca_Galuzzi_2006_a Continue reading

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The fragile water level of the Great Salt Lake


In the previous post I mentioned the sensitivity of salt lakes to the fluctuations of water level. It is worth to repeat that the water level in salt lakes depends on the balance of precipitation and evaporation which lead to its fluctuations within relatively short time. The fluctuation of water level affects the salt lake not only by changing the area or structure of habitats but also by changing the salinity of the water. The perfectly calculated proof of this statement entitled “An examination of the sensitivity of the Great Salt Lake to changes in inputs” was published by Ibrahim Mohammed and David Tarboton recently in Water Resources Research.
The story with Great Salt Lake is exactly classical. It has no outflow. The lake level is controlled by precipitation, streamflow inflows and evaporation. The rate of evaporation depends on the lake area and salinity. The task to calculate the water level seems to be very simple … for those who are not familiar with this type of calculations.

The Great Salt Lake. Photo from http://freshwatertuttle.wikispaces.com/NatalieDeadSea
The Great Salt Lake. Photo from http://freshwatertuttle.wikispaces.com/NatalieDeadSea

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