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Limnology in northeastern Ontario: from acidification to multiple stressors

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Abstract:

Thousands of lakes around Sudbury, in northeastern Ontario, Canada, were badly damaged by acid deposition and many were also metal-contaminated. Large reductions in atmospheric sulphur and metal emissions have led to widespread chemical improvements in these lakes, and recovery has been documented for various biota. These findings were very important in establishing the necessity and value of sulphur emission controls during the international debates about the effects of acid deposition and the need for cleaner air. Studies of northeastern Ontario lakes are continuing to advance our understanding of chemical and biological recovery processes; however, that knowledge is still incomplete. It has become apparent that the recovery of lakes from acidification is closely linked with the responses to, and interactions with, other large-scale environmental stressors like climate change and calcium declines. Developing a better understanding of lake recovery processes and their future outcomes within such a multiple stressor context will be difficult. It will demand the merging of various approaches, including monitoring, experimentation, paleolimnology, and modelling, and will require effective collaboration among different research and monitoring sites and various agencies and institutions engaged in environmental science.

Des milliers de lacs des environs de Sudbury, dans le nord-est de l’Ontario, Canada, ont été lourdement endommagés par les dépôts acides et plusieurs ont été aussi contaminés par des métaux. Les réductions importantes des émissions atmosphériques de soufre et de métaux ont conduit à une amélioration générale de la chimie de ces lacs et on a démontré le rétablissement de divers organismes. Ces résultats ont été de grande importance pour établir la nécessité et l’importance du contrôle des émissions de soufre lors des débats internationaux sur les effets des dépôts acides et la nécessité d’air plus pur. Les études faites sur les lacs du nord-est de l’Ontario continuent à faire progresser notre compréhension des processus de rétablissement chimique et biologique; ces connaissances demeurent cependant encore incomplètes. Il est devenu évident que la récupération des lacs de l’acidification est reliée étroitement à leurs réactions aux autres sources de stress à grande échelle dans l’environnement, tels que le changement climatique et le déclin du calcium, ainsi qu’à leurs interactions avec ces sources. Il sera difficile d’obtenir une meilleure compréhension des processus de récupération des lacs et de leur destin futur dans un tel contexte de sources multiples de stress. Cela nécessitera la conjonction de plusieurs approches dont la surveillance continue, l’expérimentation, la paléolimnologie et la modélisation; il faudra aussi une coordination effective entre les divers sites de recherche et de surveillance, ainsi qu’une collaboration des différentes agences et institutions impliquées dans les sciences de l’environnement.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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