SUMMARY: The microbial populations of the littoral (shallow water) and profundal (deep water) surface sediments of Blelham Tarn and the South Basin of Windermere were examined. Microbial numbers (direct counts), biomass (ATP) and activity (electron transport system activity, CO evolution and [C]glucose mineralization) were consistently higher in the profundal zone of both lakes, the difference being greater and average values higher in the more productive Blelham Tarn. The interstitial water of the profundal sediments contained higher concentrations of available substrates (carbohydrate, protein and amino acids). There were marked differences in the particle size distribution of the sediments with a greater proportion of small particles (< 45 μm in size) in the profundal samples. The smaller particles from both sites were colonized by a larger number of bacteria and contained higher electron transport system activity per gram dry weight. There was a greater diversity of benthic animals in the littoral zone of both lakes but larger numbers of ciliated protozoa were observed in the profundal sediments.


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