Long-term change of the littoral Cladocera in the Tatra Mountain lakes through a major acidification event

Research paper by Veronika Sacherová, Renata Kršková, Evžen Stuchlík, Zuzana Hořická, Igor Hudec, Jan Fott

Indexed on: 01 Sep '06Published on: 01 Sep '06Published in: Biologia


In our study, we focused on littoral Cladocera living and feeding in shallow shore parts of 46 mountain lakes in the Tatra Mountains (Slovakia and Poland). The studied lakes underwent a major acidification event in the 1980s and are now in the process of recovery. Lakes were divided into three categories based on their sensitivity to acidification: 5 extremely sensitive (ES), 11 acid sensitive (AS), and 30 non-sensitive (NS) lakes. In our study, we included historical data from the literature, and data from sediment core and littoral samples, which together represent the evolution of the littoral communities from a pre-industrial period up to the present. In total, 11 littoral species were found belonging to three cladoceran families. Most of the species were members of the family Chydoridae: Alona affinis, A. quadrangularis, A. rectangula, A. guttata, Acroperus harpae, Alonella excisa, A. nana, Chydorus sphaericus, and Eurycercus lamellatus. One species belonged to each family Daphniidae (Ceriodaphnia quadrangula) and Polyphemidae (Polyphemus pediculus). The most numerous littoral taxa were Alona affinis, Acroperus harpae, and Chydorus sphaericus. All species reacted to decreased pH levels during peak acidification in the 1980s by disappearing from most of the lakes of all categories; the only persisting species was Chydorus sphaericus. Most species returned to the lakes when pH started to increase in the 1990s, although their return was noticeably slower in AS lakes. Alona quadrangularis decreased its distribution range over the studied period; Polyphemus pediculus was mostly detected in the 1910s only. The number of species was highest in all lake categories when dwarf pine was present in the lake catchment. On the whole, the littoral community was richest in NS lakes.