Century changes in Connecticut, U.S.A., lakes as inferred from siliceous algal remains and their relationships to land use change

Siver, Peter A., Anne Marie Lott, Ethan Cash, Jamal Moss, Laurence J. Mariscano

Limnol. Oceanogr., 44(8), 1999, 1928-1935 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.1999.44.8.1928

ABSTRACT: Scaled chrysophytes and planktonic diatoms are used to infer changes in lake water pH, specific conductivity, trophic score, and total nitrogen in 23 Connecticut waterbodies over the last 100 yr, and the changes are correlated with quantified changes in land use in the surrounding watersheds. In general, there was good agreement between the changes inferred from both organismal groups in this suite of lakes. Significant correlations were observed between chemical conditions inferred from organisms in surface sediments and present-day land uses, especially the percentages of the watersheds that are forest or residential land cover types. Approximately 20% of the water-bodies have significantly increased in pH since 1890, and none of the lakes have significantly declined in pH despite the fact that this region receives significant amounts of acidic deposition. These findings support previous work, indicating that the pH of Connecticut lakes has not declined over the recent past. One fourth of the lakes have significantly increased in specific conductivity, especially those situated in watersheds that have become highly residential in nature. Inferred specific conductivity has more than doubled in six of the lakes during the last century. Six of the lakes have become significantly more eutrophic, while only one lake has become more oligotrophic since 1890. The majority of the lakes situated in watersheds that have remained over ~80% forested have not significantly changed, whereas those that have become over ~25% residential have experienced the greatest amount of change. The potential influences of watershed-based alkalinity generation, winter road salt use, and implications of these findings in lake management are discussed.

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