Impact of a Protective Limestone Treatment on the Water Chemistry and Zooplankton Community of Thrush Lake, Minnesota



A limestone slurry was sprayed on the surface of Thrush Lake, a small headwater lake in northeastern Minnesota, to test a treatment designed to protect acid-sensitive waters from anthropogenic acidification. The 6-year study, consisting of pretreatment, transition, and post-treatment phases, was part of the four-state Acid Precipitation Mitigation Program directed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Measured water-chemistry parameters, including acid-neutralizing capacity, pH, dissolved calcium, and dissolved inoroganic carbon, increased following treatment, although local climatic conditions influenced the magnitude and duration of the chemical changes. Physical changes to the lake, other than an increase in conductivity and a short-term alteration of water clarity subsequent to treatment, were not documented. The composition of the zooplankton community was altered, with the proportion of rotifers increasing after treatment. Individual zooplankton species showed a variety of changes in abundance that were associated with treatment over both seasonal and multi-year intervals. For example, Holopedium gibbemm was absent from lake samples immediately following treatment and recovered within a season, whereas Diaptomus minutus and Keratella taurocephala populations were reduced after treatment and had not recovered by the end of the study. Alternately, Asplanchna priodonta increased in abundance after treatment. These observed abundance patterns were generally consistent with previzous acidification or base-addition studies. In contrast, the changes in community composition of zooplankton did not consistently fit patterns developed from regional studies across water-chemistry gradients. These differences emphasize the importance of biotic as well as abiotic factors in controlling zooplankton community composition.