Can we use macroinvertebrates as indicators of acidification of high-altitude Alpine Lakes?

Steingruber, Sandra and Boggero, Angela and Pradella, Chiara and Dumnicka, Elzbieta and Colombo, Luca (2013) Can we use macroinvertebrates as indicators of acidification of high-altitude Alpine Lakes? Bollettino della Società ticinese di scienze naturali, 101. pp. 23-34.

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Abstract

Chemical recovery of lakes in the Western Alps as a consequence of decreased acid deposition has been reported since mid 1990’s. Nevertheless, examples of biological recovery are still rare. In addition, a specific method to assess acidification using benthic macroinvertebrates, for high-altitude Alpine lakes has not been developed yet. In this study we applied different already existing metrics to macroinvertebrate data from 5 high-altitude Alpine lakes with different pH, to find which reflects best differences in lake acidity and to create a list of acid sensitive species that may occur in these ecosystems, in order to improve temporal assessment of acidification through benthic macroinvertebrates in high-altitude Alpine lakes in Southern Switzerland. It resulted that in general macroinvertebrates from lake outlets are better indicators of acidity than from lake littorals. In lake outlets the following metrics increased significantly with pH: total number of taxa, number of taxa and families and relative abundance of Ephemeroptera, number of taxa of Plecoptera, number of taxa and families of the sum of Ephemeroptera/Plecoptera/Trichoptera, number of taxa and relative abundance of oligochaetes, number of taxa of chironomids, and number of acid sensitive species. Differently, the relative abundance of chironomids and predators decreased with increasing pH. In lake littorals only the total number of taxa, and the number of taxa of chioronomids and oligochaetes increased with pH.

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