Navigation Links
Study links ecosystem changes in temperate lakes to climate warming

Unparalleled warming over the last few decades has triggered widespread ecosystem changes in many temperate North American and Western European lakes, say researchers at Queen's University and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.

The team reports that striking changes are now occurring in many temperate lakes similar to those previously observed in the rapidly warming Arctic, although typically many decades later. The Arctic has long been considered a "bellwether" of what will eventually happen with warmer conditions farther south.

"Our findings suggest that ecologically important changes are already under way in temperate lakes," says Queen's Biology research scientist, Dr. Kathleen Ruhland, from the university's Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab (PEARL) and lead author of the study.

The research was recently published in the international journal Global Change Biology. Also on the team are Biology professor John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, and Andrew Paterson, a research scientist at the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and an adjunct professor at Queen's.

One of the biggest challenges with environmental studies is the lack of long-term monitoring data, Dr. Ruhland notes. "We have almost no data on how lakes have responded to climate change over the last few decades, and certainly no data on longer term time scales," she says. "However, lake sediments archive an important record of past ecosystem changes by the fossils preserved in mud profiles."

The scientists studied changes over the last few decades in the species composition of small, microscopic algae preserved in sediments from more than 200 lake systems in the northern hemisphere. These algae dominate the plankton that float at or near the surface of lakes, and serve as food for other larger organisms.

Striking ecosystem changes were recorded from a large suite of lakes from Arctic, alpine and temperate ecozones in North America and western Europe. Aquatic ecosystem changes across the circumpolar Arctic were found to occur in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. These were similar to shifts in algal communities, indicating decreased ice cover and related changes, over the last few decades in the temperate lakes.

"As expected, these changes occurred earlier by about 100 years in highly sensitive Arctic lakes, compared with temperate regions," says Dr. Smol, recipient of the 2004 Herzberg Gold Medal as Canada's top scientist.

In a detailed study from Whitefish Bay, Lake of the Woods, located in northwestern Ontario, strong relationships were found between changes in the lake algae and long-term changes in air temperature and ice-out records. The authors believe that, although the study was focused on algae preserved in lake sediments, changes to other parts of the aquatic ecosystem are also likely (for example algal blooms and deep-water oxygen levels).

"The widespread occurrence of these trends is particularly troubling as they suggest that climatically-induced ecological thresholds have already been crossed, even with temperature increases that are below projected future warming scenarios for these regions," adds Dr. Paterson. The authors warn that if the rate and magnitude of temperature increases continue, it is likely that new ecological thresholds will be surpassed, many of which may be unexpected.

"We are entering unchartered territory, the effects of which can cascade throughout the entire ecosystem," concludes Dr. Smol.


Contact: Nancy Dorrance
Queen's University

Related biology news :

1. Study of placenta unexpectedly leads to cancer gene
2. New study pardons the misunderstood egg
3. Ocean fish farming harms wild fish, study says
4. Proactive care saves lives of seniors, study finds
5. Orangutans spontaneous whistling opens new chapter in study of evolution of speech
6. First-ever socioeconomic study on coral reefs points to challenges of coastal resource management
7. Study reveals effects of unconscious exposure to advertisements
8. Rice University study finds possible clues to epilepsy, autism
9. Researchers study virus with unusual properties
10. Nanotechnology culture war possible, says Yale study
11. Gene therapy corrects sickle cell disease in laboratory study
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Study links ecosystem changes in temperate lakes to climate warming
(Date:11/9/2015)... JOSE, Calif. , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics ... human interface solutions, today announced broader entry into the ... vehicle-specific solutions that match the pace of consumer electronics ... and biometric sensors are ideal for the automotive industry ... vehicle. Europe , ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Oct. 29, 2015   MedNet Solutions , an ... spectrum of clinical research, is pleased to announce that ... Association (MHTA) as one of only three finalists for ... – Small and Growing" category. The Tekne Awards honor ... shown superior technology innovation and leadership. ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... ANN ARBOR, Mich. , Oct. 29, 2015 ... with Eurofins Genomics for U.S. distribution of its ... DNA-seq kit and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... DNA to enable the preparation of NGS libraries ... in plasma for diagnostic and prognostic applications in ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... FRANCISCO , Dec. 1, 2015  Twist Bioscience, a ... Emily Leproust , Ph.D., has been selected as one ... 2015 for fast-tracking the building blocks of life . ... Global Thinkers whose contributions and work have changed lives ... --> "It is an honor to be recognized ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... SAN DIEGO , Dec. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire/ ... that uses allogeneic stem cells for cardiovascular indications, ... clinical trial protocol based on recommendations from a ... leaders and its Scientific Advisory Board members ... boards analyzed preliminary Phase IIa safety and efficacy ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Cepheid (Nasdaq: CPHD ) today announced ... Jaffray Healthcare Conference in New York City ... its outlook for the fourth quarter of 2015 and ... longer term business model expectations. John Bishop ... to be the fastest growing company of the major ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... ... November 30, 2015 , ... Global ... practitioners and aesthetics professionals from Central America and abroad for the first Iberoamerican ... City, Panama Feb. 17-19, 2016. Testart will present and discuss new trends in ...
Breaking Biology Technology: