, Volume 279, Issue 1, pp 439–444 | Cite as

Susceptibility to freshwater acidification by two species of loon: Red-throated Loon (Gavia stellata) and Arctic Loon (Gavia arctica) in southwest Sweden

  • Mats O. G. Eriksson


In southwest Sweden, the two species of loon, Gavia stellata and G. arctica, have shown different trends in population size and production of young during the last decades. Both species fish in oligotrophic freshwaters, susceptible to acidification. The number of breeding sites occupied by G. stellata has been reduced by almost 50% during the last 40–50 years. For G. arctica, there are no indications of significant declines in population size or reproductive success during the last 20 years. The different trends in numbers and production of young might reflect different susceptibility to the ecological changes in acidified lakes. G. stellata prefer fishing lakes with high abundance of Acerina cernua and salmonid and cyprinid fish, such as Coregonus albula and Rutilus rutilus. They also feed their prefledged chicks almost entirely on cyprinid and salmonid fish. G. arctica prefer fishing lakes with high transparency and, when feeding in groups, high abundance of Perca fluviatilis. Their young can be fed on aquatic insects as a supplement to the fish diet. Thus, G. stellata to a higher degree than G. arctica relies on fish which are susceptible to low pH, and G. arctica may also benefit from the increased abundance of aquatic insects in lakes with reduced predation from fish. Furthermore, high water transparency is important for the selection of lakes by G. arctica but not by G. stellata. In G. stellata, high contents of mercury in eggs can be related to the intake of fish in lakes affected by acidification.

Key words

Gavia stellata Gavia arctica freshwater acidification Sweden 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Almer, B., 1972. The effect of acidification on fish stocks in lakes on the west coast of Sweden. Inf. Inst. Freshw. Res. Drottningholm 12, 1972 (Swedish, English summary).Google Scholar
  2. Almer, B. & M. Hanson, 1980. Some effects of acidification in West Coast lakes of Sweden. Inf. Inst. Freshw. Res. Drottningholm 5, 1980 (Swedish, English summary).Google Scholar
  3. Alvo, R., D. J. T. & H. Berill, 1988. The breeding success of common loon (Gavia immer) in relation to alkalinity and other lake characteristics in Ontario. Can. J. Zool. 66: 746–752.Google Scholar
  4. Andersson, M., 1990. Smålommen i Västmanland. Fåglar i Västmanland 19: 85–93.Google Scholar
  5. Anderson, A., P. Lindberg, S. G. Nilsson & Å. Pettersson, 1980. Breeding success of the Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica in Swedish lakes. Vår Fågelvärld 39: 85–94 (Swedish, English summary).Google Scholar
  6. Arvidsson, B., 1984. Häckfåglar i Södra Älvsborg, Gavia, Suppl. 1: 1–60.Google Scholar
  7. Barr, J. F., 1986. Population dynamics of the Common Loon (Gavia immer) associated with mercury-contaminated waters in Ontario. Canadian Wildlife Service Occasional Paper 56: 1–56.Google Scholar
  8. Barrett, R. T. & R. W. Furness, 1990. The prey and diving depths of seabirds on Hornøy, North Norway after a decrease in the Barents Sea capelin stocks. Ornis Scand. 21: 179–186.Google Scholar
  9. Bergman, R. D. & D. V. Derksen, 1977. Observations on Arctic and Red-throated Loons at Storkersen Point, Alaska. Arctic 30: 40–51.Google Scholar
  10. Björklund, I., H. Borg & K. Johansson, 1984. Mercury in Swedish lakes — its regional distribution and causes. Ambio 13: 118–121.Google Scholar
  11. Brodin, Y-W., 1989. Svensk kalkning: Rapport 1989. Swedish Environmental Protection Agency Report 3606: 1–20.Google Scholar
  12. Degerman, E. & P. Nyberg, 1987. The composition and abundance of the fish fauna in acidified and limed lakes in Sweden. Inf. Inst. Freshw. Res. Drottningholm 7: 1–71. (Swedish, English summary).Google Scholar
  13. Eriksson, M. O. G., 1984. Acidification of lakes: effects on waterbirds in Sweden. Ambio 13: 260–262.Google Scholar
  14. Eriksson, M. O. G., 1985. Prey detectability for fish-eating birds in relation to fish density and water transparency. Ornis Scand. 16: 1–7.Google Scholar
  15. Eriksson, M. O. G., 1986. Reproduction of Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica in relation to fish density in oligotrophic lakes in southwestern Sweden. Ornis Scand. 17: 245–248.Google Scholar
  16. Eriksson, M. O. G., 1987a. The production of young in Black-throated Diver, Gavia arctica, in south-west Sweden. Vår Fågelvärld 46: 172–186 (Swedish, English summary).Google Scholar
  17. Eriksson, M. O. G., 1987b. Some effects of freshwater acidification on birds in Sweden. ICBP Technical Publication 6: 183–190.Google Scholar
  18. Eriksson, M. O. G., B. Arvidsson & I. Johansson, 1988. Habitat characteristics of breeding lakes of Red-throated Diver, Gavia stellata, in South-west Sweden. Vår Fågelvärld 47: 122–132 (Swedish, English summary).Google Scholar
  19. Eriksson, M. O. G., D. Blomqvist, M. Hake & O. C. Johansson, 1990. Parental feeding in the Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata. Vår Fågelvärld 132: 1–13.Google Scholar
  20. Eriksson, M. O. G., I. Johansson & C-G. Ahlgren, 1992. Levels of mercury in eggs of Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata and Black-throated Diver G. arctica in Soutwest Sweden. Ornis Svecica 2: 29–36.Google Scholar
  21. Eriksson, M. O. G. & P. Sundberg, 1991. The choice of fishing lakes by the Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata and Black-throated Diver G. arctica during the breeding season in south-west Sweden. Bird Study 38: 135–144.Google Scholar
  22. Eriksson, M. O. G. & B. Tengelin, 1987. Short-term effects of liming on perch, Perca fluviatilis, populations in acidified lakes. Hydrobiologia 146: 187–191.Google Scholar
  23. Grahn, O., 1977. Macrophyte succession in Swedish lakes caused by deposition of airborne substances. Wat. Air Soil Pollut. 7: 295–305.Google Scholar
  24. Grahn, O., 1985. Macrophyte biomass and production in Lake Gårdsjön — an acidified clearwater lake in SW Sweden. Ecol. Bull (Stockholm) 37: 203–212.Google Scholar
  25. Götmark, F., R. Neergaard & M. Ahlund, 1989. Nesting ecology and management of the Arctic Loon in Sweden. J. Wildl. Mgmt 53: 1025–1031.Google Scholar
  26. Haga, A., 1980a. Management of the black-throated diver and the osprey in oligotrophic lakes. Fauna 33: 10–17 (Norwegian, English summary).Google Scholar
  27. Haga, A., 1980b. Management of the Red-throated diver and the crane in Southeastern Norway. Fauna 33: 129–136 (Norwegian, English summary).Google Scholar
  28. Håkanson, L., 1980. The quantitative impact of pH, bioproduction and Hg-contamination on the Hg-content of fish (pike). Envir. Pollut. Ser. B 1: 285–304.Google Scholar
  29. Lehtonen, L., 1970. Zur biologic des Prachttauchers, Gavia arctica (L.). Ann. zool. fenn. 7: 25–60.Google Scholar
  30. McIntyre, J. W., 1988. The Common Loon. Spirit of Northern lakes. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis.Google Scholar
  31. Morling, G., 1981. Effects of acidification on some lakes in western Sweden. J. Wat. Res. 37: 25–38.Google Scholar
  32. Nilsson, S. G., 1977. Adult survival rate of the Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica. Ornis Scand. 8: 193–195.Google Scholar
  33. Nilsson, S. G. & Å. Pettersson, 1978. An estimate of the population size of the Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica in Sweden. Vår Fågelvärld 37: 251–253 (Swedish, English summary).Google Scholar
  34. Norberg, R. Å. & U. M. Norberg, 1971. Take-off, landing, and flight speed during fishing flights of Gavia stellata (Port.). Ornis Scand. 7: 61–70.Google Scholar
  35. Pakarinen, R., 1989. A survey of the Black-throated Diver population in 1985–86 in Finland. Lintumies 24: 2–11 (Finnish, English summary).Google Scholar
  36. Pakarinen, R. & O. Järvinen, 1984. The Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata in Finland: a population ecological analysis of its status and population trends. Lintumies 19: (Finnish, English summary).Google Scholar
  37. Parker, K. E., 1988. Common loon reproduction and chick feeding on acidified lakes in the Adirondack Park, New York. Can. J. Zool. 66: 804–810.Google Scholar
  38. Persson, L., 1987. Effects of habitat and season on competitive interactions between roach (Rutilus rutilus) and perch (Perca fluviatilis). Oecologia (Berl.) 73: 170–177.Google Scholar
  39. Petersen, M. R., 1989. Nesting ecology of Pacific Loon, Gavia pacifica, on the Yukon-Kuskowin Delta, Alaska. - Canadian Field-Naturalist 103: 265–269.Google Scholar
  40. Piatt, J. F. & D. N. Nettleship, 1985. Diving depths of four alcids. Auk 102: 293–297.Google Scholar
  41. Reimchen, T. E. & S. Douglas, 1984. Feeding schedule and daily food consumption in Red-throated Loons (Gavia stellata) over the prefledging period. Auk. 101: 593–599.Google Scholar
  42. Scheuhammer, A. M., 1991. Effects of acidification on the availability of toxic metals and calcium to wild birds and mammals. Envir. Pollut. 71: 329–375.Google Scholar
  43. Sjölander, S., 1978. Reproductive behaviour of the Black-throated Diver Gavia arctica. Ornis Scand. 9: 51–65.Google Scholar
  44. SOF, 1990. Sveriges fåglar. 2nd edn. Swedish Ornithological Union, Stockholm.Google Scholar
  45. Stenson, J. A. E., 1979. Predator-prey relations between fish and invertebrate prey in some forest lakes. Rep. Inst. Freshw. Res. Drottningholm 58: 166–183.Google Scholar
  46. Sutcliffe, S. A., 1979, ed. Proceeding of the second North American Conference on Common loon research and management. Audubon Society of New Hampshire, Meredith.Google Scholar
  47. Wanless, S., J. A. Morris & M. P. Harris, 1988. Diving behaviour of guillemot Uria aalge, puffin Fratercula arctica and razorbill Alca torda as shown by radio-telemetry. J. Zool. Lond. 216: 73–81.Google Scholar
  48. Wiener, J. G., 1987. Metal contamination of fish in low-pH lakes and potential implications for piscivorous wildlife. Trans. N. Am. Wildl. & Nat. Res. Conf. 52: 645–657.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mats O. G. Eriksson
    • 1
  1. 1.Swedish Environmental Protection AgencySolnaSweden

Personalised recommendations