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Water Resources Research

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Freshwater zooplankton -- Washington (State) -- Mount Rainier National Park, Freshwater zooplankton -- Ecology -- Washington (State), Plankton populations, Habitat -- Ecology


Nonnative fish introductions have altered thousands of naturally fishless montane lakes, resulting in cascading food web repercussions. Nitrogen deposition has been recognized as an anthropogenic contributor to acidification and eutrophication of freshwater ecosystems, which may affect the abundance and composition of planktonic communities. This study identified responses of zooplankton communities from two lakes (fish present versus absent) in Mount Rainier National Park to manipulations simulating an episodic disturbance of acidification and eutrophication via nitrogen addition in mesocosms. Zooplankton communities from lakes with different food web structure (i.e., fish present or absent) responded differently to the singular effects of acid and nitrogen addition. For instance, zooplankton biomass decreased in the acid treatment of the fishless lake experiment, but increased in response to acid in the fish‐present experiment. In contrast, the combination of acid and nitrogen often resulted in weak responses for both lake types, resulting in nonadditive effects, i.e., the net effect of the stressors was in the opposite direction than predicted, which is known as a reversal or “ecological surprise.” This experiment demonstrates the difficulty in predicting the interactive effects of multiple stressors on aquatic communities, which may pose significant challenges for habitat restoration through fish removal.


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