3 years ago

Subcatchment deltas and upland features influence multiscale aquatic ecosystem recovery in damaged landscapes

Brian W. Kielstra, John M. Gunn, Shelley E. Arnott
Assessing biological recovery in damaged aquatic environments requires the consideration of multiple spatial and temporal scales. Past research has focused on assessing lake recovery from atmospheric or catchment disturbance at regional or catchment levels. Studies have also rarely considered the influences of adjacent terrestrial characteristics on within-lake habitats, such as subcatchment delta confluences. We used Hyalella azteca, a ubiquitous freshwater amphipod, as a sensitive indicator to assess the importance of local subcatchment scale factors in the context of multiscale lake recovery within the metal mining region of Sudbury, Canada following a period of major reductions in atmospheric pollution. At the regional scale, data from repeated surveys of 40 lakes showed higher probabilities of H. azteca occurrence with higher lake water conductivity, alkalinity, and pH and lower metal concentrations. The importance of metals decreased through time and the importance of higher conductivity, alkalinity, and pH increased. At the subcatchment scale, a subset of six lakes sampled across a colonization gradient revealed higher H. azteca abundances at subcatchment delta sites than non-delta sites in early colonization stages, and that abundance at delta sites was correlated with both within-lake habitat and terrestrial subcatchment characteristics. For example, wetland cover reduced the strength of positive associations between H. azteca abundance and macrophyte density. A single lake from this subset also revealed higher abundances at delta sites associated with higher concentrations of terrestrial organic matter and larger subcatchments. Our results demonstrate that factors affecting recovery can change with the scale of study, and that managing terrestrial-aquatic linkages is important for facilitating recovery processes within damaged lake ecosystems.

Publisher URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/resolve/doi

DOI: 10.1002/eap.1609

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