Three laboratory experiments demonstrated that additions of rainwater to epilimnetic lake water collected in southeastern Lake Michigan stimulated chlorophyll a production more than did additions of reagent-grade water during incubations of 12 to 20 d. Chlorophyll a production did not begin until 3-5 d after the rain and lake water were mixed. The stimulation caused by additions of rain acidified to pH 3.0 was greater than that caused by additions of untreated rain (pH 4.0-4.5). Our results support the following hypotheses: (1) Acid rain stimulates the growth of phytoplankton in lake water; (2) phosphorus in rain appears to be the factor causing this stimulation. We conclude that acid rain may accelerate the growth of epilimnetic phytoplankton in Lake Michigan (and other similar lakes) during stratification when other sources of bioavailable phosphorus to the epilimnion are limited.
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Acid rain stimulation of Lake Michigan phytoplankton growth