Effects of Acid Rain on Freshwater Ecosystems

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Science  08 Jan 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4836, pp. 149-157
DOI: 10.1126/science.239.4836.149


Acid-vulnerable areas are more numerous and widespread than believed 7 years ago. Lakes and streams in acid-vulnerable areas of northeastern North America have suffered substantial declines in acid-neutralizing capacity, the worst cases resulting in biological damage. Many invertebrates are very sensitive to acidification, with some disappearing at pH values as high as 6.0. However, the recent rate of acidification of lakes is slower than once predicted, in part the result of decreases in sulfur oxide emissions. A discussion of some of the processes that have contributed to the acidification of lakes as well as those that have protected acid-sensitive freshwaters is presented. The author is in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Freshwater Institute, 501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2N6, Canada.