Restructuring of Fish Assemblages in Swedish Lakes Following Amelioration of Acid Stress through Liming



A large-scale liming program was initiated in Sweden in the mid-1970s to ameliorate the effects of acidification and to restore acidified lakes and rivers to conditions present before acidification. I compared the fish fauna composition and biomass among limed, acidified, and consistently circumneutral lakes. The study focused on (1) recolonization and fish assemblage development and (2) fish biomass and assemblage composition. Time-series data from 14 limed, 5 acid, and 10 circumneutral lakes, and a data set of 323 limed and 346 nonlimed circumneutral lakes, are analyzed. Long-term monitoring revealed that fish species richness increased after liming and was of the same magnitude in limed lakes as in nonlimed circumneutral lakes after 10–20 years. Species proportions differed between limed and nonlimed lakes, and the relative biomass of Perca fluviatilis (Eurasian perch) was in general higher, whereas cyprinid and pelagic species were less important in the limed lakes than in the nonlimed circumneutral lakes. Recolonization of fish species was found to be a crucial factor for the development of the fish assemblages after liming, and in several limed lakes the reintroduction of fish species has accelerated the recovery of pre-acidification fish assemblages.