Recovery of macroinvertebrate species richness in acidified upland waters assessed with a field toxicity model

Anthony Stockdale, Edward Tipping, Arne Fjellheim, Øyvind A. Garmo, Alan G. Hildrew, Stephen Lofts, Don T. Monteith, Stephen J. Ormerod, Ewan M. Shilland
  • Ecological Indicators, February 2014, Elsevier
  • DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2011.11.002

Recovery of upland ecology from historical acidification - observation vs. modelling

What is it about?

Industrialisation in the early to mid 20th century let to the formation of acid rain that severely affected upland areas across Europe. This resulted in a reduced ecological diversity as sensitive species could not adapt to the more acidic conditions. Many scientific programmes have monitored the chemistry and biology of these areas for several decades, and this gives us an opportunity to assess if the species diversity has recovered alongside the chemical conditions. This study shows that conditions in lots of streams and rivers has recovered and predictions of species recovery in streams and rivers mirrored the predictions based on the water chemistry. However, species recovery in lakes seems to lag the chemical recovery.

Why is it important?

Frequent monitoring of species richness is an incredibly skilled and time consuming endeavour. Chemistry can be analysed more routinely and if we can show a good predictive capability we can use models to estimate how well impacted streams, rivers and lakes are recovering from historical acidification. These relationships are well established for many sites used in this study.

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The following have contributed to this page: Anthony Stockdale