Reconstruction of centuries-old Daphnia communities in a lake recovering from acidification and metal contamination

Heather G Pollard, John K Colbourne, Wendel Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Paleolimnological and molecular genetic techniques were combined to reconstruct the long-term patterns in Daphnia community composition in Hannah Lake--a lake recovering from industrial acidification, metal contamination and faunal extirpation. Like many zooplankters, Daphnia produce diapausing eggs that can remain viable for decades and even over a century. Yet, the appearance of D. mendotae in Hannah Lake during the last two decades is likely the outcome of dispersal from other nearby lakes, not by colonization from the sediment egg-bank. Our genetic tests using PCR, SSCP and sequencing indicate that D. mendotae diapausing eggs are absent within the sediment record of the previous 250 years and that, prior to metal smelting operations in the region, the community was dominated by D. pulicaria. This species shift following the lake's chemical restoration is consistent with earlier historical changes in lake acidity. Environmental fluctuations may have governed community composition throughout Hannah Lake's more ancient past. Extending this molecular-paleolimnological approach to other lakes should help develop more accurate formulations of the biological recovery process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-8
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003


  • Acid Rain
  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA
  • Daphnia
  • Geologic Sediments
  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Industry
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Ontario
  • Ovum
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Single-Stranded Conformational
  • Population Dynamics
  • Water Pollutants


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