A Novel Environmental Quality Criterion for Acidification in Swedish Lakes – An Application of Studies on the Relationship Between Biota and Water Chemistry
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The recovery from acidification has led to the demand for more precise criteria for classification of acidification. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency has revised Sweden’s Ecological Quality Criteria for acidification to improve the correlation between the chemical acidification criteria and biological effects. This paper summarises the most relevant findings from several of the studies commissioned for this revision. The studies included data on water chemistry in 74 reference lakes in southern Sweden with data on fish in 61 of the lakes, as well as data on littoral fauna in 48 lakes. We found that the acidity variable most strongly correlated to the biota was the median pH from the current year. Our results probably do not reflect the mechanisms behind the negative effects of acidity on the biota, but are fully relevant for evaluation of monitoring data. The biogeochemical models used for predicting acidification reference conditions generate a pre-industrial buffering capacity. In order to get an ecologically more relevant criteria for acidification based on pH, we transferred the estimated change in buffering capacity into a corresponding change in pH. A change of 0.4 units was defined as the threshold for acidification. With this criterion a considerably lower number of Swedish lakes were classified as acidified when compared with the present Ecological Quality Criteria.
Keywordsfish monitoring littoral fauna water chemistry
This report is based on data from monitoring programs funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
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