Indexed on: 19 Apr '15Published on: 19 Apr '15Published in: Journal of paleolimnology
The process of recovery from environmental impact provides insights into factors that drive community assembly. This study investigated community reassembly following perturbation, using littoral cladoceran microfossils. Whole-lake experimental manipulations of acids and nutrients in Lake 302N (L302N; 1972–1997) and acids in Lake 223 (L223; 1976–1994) at the Experimental Lakes Area (ELA; Ontario, Canada), provided an opportunity to use the sediment record to reconstruct the trajectory of recovery. Comparison was made to unmanipulated Lake 377 (L377) to estimate changes in regional baseline conditions. Recovery was evaluated at both the species and community level, using univariate and multivariate metrics. Up to 14 years after cessation of acid and nutrient additions, and following chemical recovery to pH > 6.5, both L302N and L223 littoral cladoceran communities failed to recover to their pre-manipulation states. Multivariate metrics demonstrated hysteresis along the recovery trajectory, and the movement to alternative states in littoral cladoceran communities in both lakes. The most recent littoral cladoceran community structure, reconstructed from the paleorecord, is driven by the persistence of species from the acidification period, suggesting biological resistance. Recovery states differed between L302N and L223, although their initial, pre-manipulation littoral cladoceran community structures were similar, reflecting multiple, independent recovery trajectories. Independent recovery trajectories are at odds with previous findings, which suggest that dispersal from an egg bank should support deterministic recovery trajectories. We conclude that littoral cladoceran microfossils can be used effectively to determine the community state with recovery and compare it to the pre-manipulation condition, particularly with the use of multivariate metrics.