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Dissolved oxygen (DO) is the uncombined molecular oxygen (O2) that is in solution in water. DO concentrations are increased due to algal/macrophyte photosynthesis and exchange with atmospheric oxygen (which is enhanced in the presence of wave action and/or turbulence). DO concentrations can decrease due to biological respiration (both plants and animals) and nitrification (a bacterial process). DO concentrations provide insight on the oxygen demand exerted on the water column, indicate available habitat for fish populations, and indicate what conditions may exist for, as well as what processes are involved in the breakdown of organic material. DO concentrations greater than 5 to 6 milligrams per liter are generally desirable in surface waters. However, nutrient-rich lakes may become DO-depleted in their bottom waters during summer stratification.

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