Summary: Recovery of acid damaged zooplankton
communities: measurement, extent, and limiting
Derek K. Gray and Shelley E. Arnott
Abstract: Anthropogenic acidification has affected biota in thousands of lakes in eastern North America and Europe. To
measure the degree and extent of biological recovery following pH recovery in acidified lakes, many studies have assessed
changes occurring in acid-damaged zooplankton communities. In this review we synthesize studies of zooplankton recov-
ery from regions severely affected by acidification. In doing so, we provide a critical overview of: (1) the design of studies
used to detect recovery; (2) the status of communities in acidified regions; and (3) our current understanding of the factors
that limit recovery. The design of most studies assessing zooplankton recovery fall into three categories based on their se-
lection of data to be used for recovery benchmarks: (1) historical; (2) reference-lakes; and (3) temporal. Within these study
designs, the most commonly used metrics include species richness, indicator species, and relative species abundances.
Many studies have used species richness as the sole indicator of recovery; however, we argue that additional metrics
should be considered in analyses to make conclusions more robust. Studies conducted in eastern North America and North-
ern Europe have demonstrated significant, though often incomplete, recovery of zooplankton communities in lakes that
reach a pH > 6.0. Data collected in central Europe indicate little recovery in the heavily affected Bohemian Forest lakes,
but complete recovery of species richness in the moderately acidified Tatra Mountain lakes. Factors limiting biological re-
covery, including slow chemical recovery, dispersal limitation, and community resistance, vary in importance among and
within regions, suggesting that region- and lake-specific management approaches may be required.
Key words: acidification, recovery, zooplankton, dispersal, pH, biological resistance.