Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ecosystem Changes In Temperate Lakes Linked To Climate Warming

Date:
December 27, 2008
Source:
Queen's University
Summary:
Unparalleled warming over the last few decades has triggered widespread ecosystem changes in many temperate North American and Western European lakes, say researchers.

Biology research scientists John Smol and Kathleen Ruhland examine sediment samples that show the history of a lake system.
Credit: Photo by Stephen Wild

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.

The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen's University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Queen's University. "Ecosystem Changes In Temperate Lakes Linked To Climate Warming." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081216133442.htm>.
Queen's University. (2008, December 27). Ecosystem Changes In Temperate Lakes Linked To Climate Warming. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081216133442.htm
Queen's University. "Ecosystem Changes In Temperate Lakes Linked To Climate Warming." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081216133442.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins