Aquatic Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 4, pp 781–792 | Cite as

Examining the effects of climate change, acidic deposition, and copper sulphate poisoning on long-term changes in cladoceran assemblages

  • Jennifer B. Korosi
  • John P. Smol
Research Article


We analyzed cladoceran remains in dated sediment cores from four lakes in Nova Scotia, Canada, to assess the potential effects of climate warming, acidic deposition, and a major fish kill caused by copper sulphate poisoning on assemblage composition and Bosmina size structure. In three of the four lakes, we observed a decline in Daphnia in the early 20th century that might be indicative of limnological changes in response to acidic deposition or increased fish predation. The appearance of the softwater zooplankter Holopedium glacialis in Hirtle Lake ~1995 might be linked to declining aqueous [Ca], a consequence of acidic deposition. No shifts in subfossil Cladocera were identified in this study that could be linked to climate warming. The application of copper sulphate as a fish poison to Trefry Lake (the lake was later re-stocked with trout fry) in 1938 resulted in dramatic and persistent changes in the cladoceran assemblage, where littoral Cladocera declined in relative abundance and small, pelagic Bosmina increased. In addition, we observed a reduction in the mean body size of Bosmina in post-1938 sediments, suggesting that planktivorous fish abundance increased and/or predatory copepods and other invertebrate predators decreased. No recovery of Cladocera to pre-disturbance conditions was observed. Overall, our data suggest that acidic deposition and calcium decline may have had a modest impact on the cladoceran communities in these lakes, but the effects of copper sulphate poisoning on the food web in Trefry Lake were widespread, and still persist over 70 years following this intervention.


Cladocera Nova Scotia Biomanipulation Copper sulphate poisoning Bosmina morphology Paleolimnology Acidic deposition 



We acknowledge A. Jeziorski, J. Thienpont, J. Hawryshyn, B. Ginn, and Parks Canada staff at Cape Breton Highlands National Park for participation in field work, and J. MacMillan of the Nova Scotia Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture for providing fisheries data for Trefry Lake. This study was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery grant to JPS, and an NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship D to JBK.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL)Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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