Trajectories of zooplankton recovery in the little rock lake whole-lake acidification experiment

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Understanding the factors that affect biological recovery from environmental stressors such as acidification is an important challenge in ecology. Here we report on zooplankton community recovery following the experimental acidification of Little Rock Lake, Wisconsin, USA. One decade following cessation of acid additions to the northern basin of Little Rock Lake (LRL), recovery of the zooplankton community was complete. Approximately 40% of zooplankton species in the lake exhibited a recovery lag in which biological recovery to reference basin levels was delayed by 1-6 yr after pH recovered to the level at which the species originally responded. Delays in recovery such as those we observed in LRL may be attributable to "biological resistance" wherein establishment of viable populations of key acid-sensitive species following water quality improvements is prevented by other components of the community that thrived during acidification. Indeed, we observed that the recovery of species that thrived during acidification tended to precede recovery of species that declined during acidification. In addition, correspondence analysis indicated that the zooplankton community followed different pathways during acidification and recovery, suggesting that there is substantial hysteresis in zooplankton recovery from acidification. By providing an example of a relatively rapid recovery from short-term acidification, zooplankton community recovery from experimental acidification in LRL generally reinforces the positive outlook for recovery reported for other acidified lakes.


Copyright Ecological Society of America 2006.

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Ecological Applications

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Thomas M. Frost, Janet M. Fischer, Jennifer L. Klug, Shelley E. Arnott and Pamela K. Montz. (2006). Trajectories of zooplankton recovery in the little rock lake whole-lake acidification experiment. Ecological Applications 16(1), 353-367.



Peer Reviewed