Slide 28 -
Acid Deposition - Biology Freshwater Lakes
Since only about 10% of the water in lakes and streams comes from rainfall, the acidity of water of freshwater lakes and streams is mostly determined by the soil and rock types of an area. An area that is most vulnerable to acidification is one that has granite or peat-based soil. Acidification of a lake occurs over a period of time, but initially acidification of freshwater, causes it to be clear blue. This is due to the settling of decaying organic matter.
Even though the total amount of living organisms remains constant, the diversity of an acidified body of freshwater drops significantly. Soft bodied animals like leeches, snails, and crayfish die with a very little change in acidity, which is often an indicator of acidification. Acidification of freshwater greatly affects fish populations. A decrease in pH is often paired with an increase in toxic metals like aluminum and mercury. A decrease in pH and elevated aluminum concentration will increase fish mortality, decrease fish growth, decrease egg production and embryo survival, and result in physiological impairment of adult fish. Aluminum in the water can precipitate onto fish gills, which would inhibit diffusion and result in respiratory stress. Acid rain is extremely detrimental to amphibian populations. Most amphibians lay their eggs in small, shallow ponds which receive most of their water from rainfall. A very small amount of acidic rainfall would kill any embryos in these small ponds.
Acid rain does not directly kill trees. Acidic water dissolves the nutrients and minerals in the soil and washes them away before trees and plants can absorb them out of the ground for use. Acid rain also releases toxic substances such as aluminum into the soil which in very small amounts are very harmful to trees. Trees high up in the mountains are more at risk to receive acid, from acidic clouds and fog. The trees are often bathed in these clouds, which eats away at the waxy protective coating on the leaves. After this occurs, the leaves cannot perform photosynthesis and the trees are left unhealthy, weak, and usually die from disease or from insect attacks. Matt Aschaffenburg, http://www.doc.mmu.ac.uk/aric/eae/Acid_Rain/acid_rain.html