Chemical and biological recovery of Lake Saudlandsvatn, a formerly highly acidified lake in southernmost Norway, in response to decreased acid deposition.


We studied acid-sensitive organisms in Lake Saudlandsvatn in southernmost Norway in relation to acidification: brown trout (Salmo trutta), the caddisfly Hydropsyche siltalai and the zooplankter Daphnia longispina. The study lake was highly acidified with episodic pH depressions <5.0 in the 1970s and 1980s, and sulphur (S) deposition five times greater than the critical load. Chemical recovery following reduced deposition of S became evident in the late 1990s, when the pH increased to 5.5-6.0. By 2000, S deposition had decreased to the critical load. The lake sustained a good brown trout population until the early 1980s, but then it started to decline and nearly went extinct ten years later. Severe recruitment failures were found in most years prior to 1995, both in the inlet and outlet stream. However, since 2003 a marked recovery of the brown trout population has occurred in the lake. During the 1980s, the H. siltalai disappeared from the lake tributaries. In 1996, the species reappeared, and increased highly in abundance from 2000 and onwards. The first post-acidification record of D. longispina from net hauls in Lake Saudlandsvatn was in 2002. Palaeolimnological data confirmed their presence prior to acidification. Any significant recovery in all three organism groups coincided with an acid-neutralizing capacity (ANC) of >20 μeq L⁻¹ and toxic inorganic aluminium of <30 μg L⁻¹. Projections made with the MAGIC model indicate that unless further reductions in deposition of S are made, the ANC will fluctuate around the ANC survival threshold for the biological elements described. Thus, full biological recovery will not occur in the near future.


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