Limnology and Oceanography
Author ORCID Identifier
Phaedra Budy https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9918-1678
Casey A. Pennock https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3547-6477
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Effects of climate change-driven disturbance on lake ecosystems can be subtle; indirect effects include increased nutrient loading that could impact ecosystem function. We designed a low-level fertilization experiment to mimic persistent, climate change-driven disturbances (deeper thaw, greater weathering, or thermokarst failure) delivering nutrients to arctic lakes. We measured responses of pelagic trophic levels over 12 yr in a fertilized deep lake with fish and a shallow fishless lake, compared to paired reference lakes, and monitored recovery for 6 yr. Relative to prefertilization in the deep lake, we observed a maximum pelagic response in chl a (+201%), dissolved oxygen (DO, −43%), and zooplankton biomass (+88%) during the fertilization period (2001–2012). Other responses to fertilization, such as water transparency and fish relative abundance, were delayed, but both ultimately declined. Phyto- and zooplankton biomass and community composition shifted with fertilization. The effects of fertilization were less pronounced in the paired shallow lakes, because of a natural thermokarst failure likely impacting the reference lake. In the deep lake there was (a) moderate resistance to change in ecosystem functions at all trophic levels, (b) eventual responses were often nonlinear, and (c) postfertilization recovery (return) times were most rapid at the base of the food web (2–4 yr) while higher trophic levels failed to recover after 6 yr. The timing and magnitude of responses to fertilization in these arctic lakes were similar to responses in other lakes, suggesting indirect effects of climate change that modify nutrient inputs may affect many lakes in the future.
Budy, P., Pennock, C.A., Giblin, A.E., Luecke, C., White, D.L. and Kling, G.W. (2021), Understanding the effects of climate change via disturbance on pristine arctic lakes—multitrophic level response and recovery to a 12-yr, low-level fertilization experiment. Limnol Oceanogr. https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.11893