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Does freshwater macroinvertebrate diversity along a pH-gradient reflect adaptation to low pH?
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
Department of Forest Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Umeå, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences.
2007 (English)In: Freshwater Biology, ISSN 0046-5070, E-ISSN 1365-2427, Vol. 52, no 11, 2172-2183 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

1. The impacts of anthropogenic surface water acidification are much better known than those of natural acidity. Recent studies have indicated biodiversity is not degraded and species composition unaltered in naturally acidic compared to circumneutral watercourses.

2. Here, we use a geographically extensive dataset comprising sites in more than 200 Swedish streams to test whether the lack of effects on macroinvertebrate species diversity is due to exaptation and adaptation to natural acidity.

3. To this end, we modelled pH associated with spring flood episodes, which inflict the most challenging hydrochemical conditions to the biota. We compared taxonomic richness and species composition along the modelled pH gradient in northern Sweden, where acidity is largely natural, with southern Sweden, a region influenced by significant anthropogenic acidification.

4. We found Plecoptera richness did not respond to varying pH either in northern or southern Sweden. Ephemeroptera richness was sensitive to pH in both regions, while that of Trichoptera increased with increasing pH in southern Sweden, but decreased in the north. The taxonomic composition of Plecoptera changed along the pH gradient in both regions, whereas that of Ephemeroptera and Trichoptera changed more strongly with pH in southern Sweden.

5. Our results support the hypothesis that stream invertebrates are able to tolerate low pH through exaptation or adaptation, but that this capability varies among taxonomic groups.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford: Blackwell Scientific , 2007. Vol. 52, no 11, 2172-2183 p.
Keyword [en]
acidity, aquatic insects, community ecology, generalized linear mixed models, taxonomic richness
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-2485DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2427.2007.01845.xOAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-2485DiVA: diva2:140633
Available from: 2007-08-28 Created: 2007-08-28 Last updated: 2016-02-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. What are the effects of natural versus human-caused acidity on stream species diversity and ecosystem functioning?
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What are the effects of natural versus human-caused acidity on stream species diversity and ecosystem functioning?
2007 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Human activities have caused acidification of freshwater systems on a large scale resulting in reduced species diversity and ecological functioning in many lakes and streams. However, many naturally acidic freshwater systems have also been found, for instance in northern Sweden. In regions where such naturally acidic aquatic ecosystems have prevailed over evolutionary periods, species diversity and ecological functioning are not automatically impaired due to possible adaptation to the putatively adverse environmental conditions. I studied species diversity patterns and ecological functioning in anthropogenically acidified, naturally acidic, circumneutral, and limed streams to test the adaptation hypothesis and examine the ecological effects of variation in naturally acidic water chemistry. Species diversity was studied using benthic macroinvertebrates, while functioning was modelled using the decomposition rates of leaf litter. In accordance with the evolutionary species pool hypothesis, species richness was reduced more strongly in regions with anthropogenic than natural acidity when compared to circumneutral streams, supporting the adaptation hypothesis. In contrast, the patterns in ecological functioning along the pH-gradients did not differ between regions with anthropogenic and natural acidity, likely resulting from compensation: the biomass of tolerant taxa probably increased which thus rescued the loss in functioning otherwise mediated by the more sensitive taxa. Furthermore, the naturally variable acidic water chemistry clearly supported distinct macroinvertebrate assemblages, as was reflected in differing patterns of species diversity and ecological functioning. Such naturally acidic waters that were rich in dissolved organic carbon supported higher ecosystem process rates and lower species diversity than waters that contained little dissolved organic carbon. Upon liming naturally acidic streams microbial leaf decomposition increased, whereas shredding decreased along with changes in shredder abundances. The abundance of large caddisflies decreased, while the abundance of small stoneflies increased. The results suggest that various types of benthic macroinvertebrates with varying levels of adaptation and tolerance inhabited the hydrochemically variable naturally acidic streams. The distributions of macroinvertebrates in response to different pH levels and differences in acid quality and how these distributions translate into varying patterns of species diversity and ecological functioning are worthy of further investigation. This will likely improve our understanding of how such naturally acidic streams and their biota can be successfully managed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap, 2007. 19 p.
Keyword
acid rain, aquatic insects, biodiversity, ecosystem function
National Category
Biological Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1318 (URN)978-91-7264-345-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2007-09-22, KB3A9, KBC, Ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap, Umeå, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2007-08-28 Created: 2007-08-28 Last updated: 2011-03-23Bibliographically approved

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