The effects of ecological history are frequently ignored in attempts to predict community responses to environmental change. In this study, we explored the possibility that ecological history can cause differences in community responses to perturbation using parallel acidification experiments in three sites with different pH histories in the Northern Highland Lake District of Wisconsin, USA. In Trout Lake, high acid neutralizing capacity had historically buffered changes in pH. In contrast, the two basins of Little Rock Lake (Little Rock-Reference and Little Rock-Treatment) had experienced seasonal fluctuations in pH. Furthermore, the two lake basins were separated with a curtain and Little Rock-Treatment was experimentally acidified in the late 1980s. In each site, we conducted mesocosm experiments to compare zooplankton community dynamics in control (ambient pH) and acidified (pH 4.7) treatments. Zooplankton community responses were strongest in Trout Lake and weakest in Little Rock-Treatment suggesting that ecological history affected responses to acidification. In part, variation in community sensitivity to acidification was driven by differences in species composition. However, the results of a reciprocal transplant experiment indicated that changes in the acid tolerance of populations during past acidification events may make zooplankton communities less sensitive to subsequent pH stress. Our study highlights the role that ecological history may play in community-level responses to environmental change.
Fischer, Janet M.; Klug, Jennifer L.; Ives, Anthony R.; and Frost, Thomas M., "Ecological history affects zooplankton community responses to acidification" (2001). Biology Faculty Publications. 42.
Fischer, J. M., Klug, J. L., Ives, A. R., & Frost, T. M. (2001). Ecological history affects zooplankton community responses to acidification. Ecology, 82(11), 2984-3000.