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Iron (Fe) is a minor nutrient for algae and other plants, but its major importance in lake waters is in relation to phosphorus and oxygen. In lake sediments, iron combines with phosphorus and tends to prevent the release of phosphorus into the overlying water. However, the release of both iron and phosphorus occurs readily when dissolved oxygen is depleted in the lake bottom water. Therefore, elevated iron concentrations in lakes often signal an "internal source" of phosphorus -- i.e., release from the sediments.

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