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Ambio. 2003 Apr;32(3):203-7.

Recovery of crustacean zooplankton communities from acidification in Killarney Park, Ontario, 1971-2000: pH 6 as a recovery goal.

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  • 1Department of Biology, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Despite reductions in atmospheric SO4(2-) deposition and resultant decreases in surface water acidity, widespread biological recovery from acidification has not yet been documented. Temporal trends in crustacean zooplankton species richness (number of species) and composition were examined between 1971-2000 in 46 Killarney Park lakes, Ontario, Canada, to assess the degree of biological recovery in lakes with significant water quality improvements, i.e. pH now > 6, compared to 2 other groups: i) lakes which never acidified; and ii) lakes which are still acidified (pH < 6). Time trends in species richness could not be distinguished among the 3 groups of lakes, nor did changes in species richness indicate recovery. In contrast, the zooplankton community composition of lakes in which the pH increased to above 6, as measured by a multivariate index of species abundances, changed from a "damaged" state to one typical of neutral lakes. Some recovery in composition was also documented for the acidic lakes. While still acidic, the pH levels of these lakes have risen. The extent and pace of recovery in Killarney Provincial Park bodes well for the future of other acidified regions in North America and Europe.

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