Canadian Lakes Are Becoming Jellified

Many lakes in the Canadian Shield are basically turning into jelly, and it’s because of acid rain. Unlike normal rain, acid rain washes away calcium that’s in lakes and in surrounding soil, changing water composition of ecosystems. (Click here to see the chemistry behind why acid rain does this). Lakes in the Canadian Shield are already pretty low in calcium to start with, and with the calcium-depleting effects of acid rain, they provide great environments for a certain water flea, called Holopedium. Another native water flea, Daphnia, needs more calcium than Holopedium to survive, and in calcium-deficient lakes, they are horribly outcompeted. Without much competition, Holopedium populations boom. So how is this turning lakes into jelly? Holopedium possess large jelly-like blobs on their backs that make it harder for predators to eat them. By sheer number, they cause water to take on a gelatinous consistency.

Daphnia are a vital component in the food chains of the lakes they inhabit, while Holopedium generally cannot be eaten because of their large size and gelatinous defenses. This clearly creates an ecological problem. The huge numbers of Holopedium can also clog water intakes. The worst part is, it’s likely that none of this can be fixed. Lakes have already passed critical thresholds, according to biologist John Smol. All we can do now is watch what happens next…

Article here


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