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)
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.
acid rain, aquatic insects, biodiversity, ecosystem function
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-1318ISBN: 978-91-7264-345-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-1318DiVA: diva2:140638
2007-09-22, KB3A9, KBC, Ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap, Umeå, 10:00
Ormerod, Steve J., Prof.
Malmqvist, Björn, Prof.
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