Saturday November 22, 2014

Lakes Turning to Jelly

Jelly-coated crustaceans from an Ontario lake

Jelly-coated crustaceans from an Ontario lake (Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry)

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 The problem of acid rain is one of the few success stories we've had in controlling pollution, as the industrial emissions that cause it have been cut substantially. But the environmental damage and disruption caused by acid rain still echo in the wilderness. One example discovered by Professor John Smol, a biologist and Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change at Queen's University in Kingston, and his colleagues, is what they're calling the "jellification" of temperate lakes. Acid rain depleted the environments around these mineral-poor lakes of calcium, which is essential to lake organisms. Without calcium entering the lakes in run-off, some crustaceans at the base of the aquatic food chain, which make their exoskeletons from the mineral, are at a disadvantage, and they're being displaced by species that have an jelly-like coating. These jelly-organisms are inedible to many predators, and disruptive to the lakes' ecological balance.

Related Links

Paper in Proceedings B:

Release from Dr. Smol's lab

Toronto Star article