Using a 30-year record of biological and water chemistry data collected from seven lakes near smelters in Sudbury (Ontario, Canada) we examined the link between reductions of Cu, Ni, and Zn concentrations and zooplankton species richness. The toxicity of the metal mixtures was assessed using an additive Toxic Unit (TU) approach. Four TU models were developed based on total metal concentrations (TM-TU); free ion concentrations (FI-TU); acute LC50s calculated from the Biotic Ligand Model (BLM-TU); and chronic LC50s (acute LC50s adjusted by metal-specific acute-to-chronic ratios, cBLM-TU). All models significantly correlated reductions in metal concentrations to increased zooplankton species richness over time (p < 0.01) with a rank based on r 2 values of cBLM-TU > BLM-TU = FI-TU > TM-TU. Lake-wise comparisons within each model showed that the BLM-TU and cBLM-TU models provided the best description of recovery across all seven lakes. These two models were used to calculate thresholds for chemical and biological recovery using data from reference lakes in the same region. A threshold value of TU = 1 derived from the cBLM-TU provided the most accurate description of recovery. Overall, BLM-based TU models that integrate site-specific water chemistry-derived estimates of toxicity offer a useful predictor of biological recovery.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry