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Acidic deposition occurs over most of the United States and the deposition patterns and theoretical vulnerabilities of aquatic ecosystems to chemical changes can be delineated, but few data exist on concomitant biological effects. Hypothetical direct effects are limited primarily to toxicity of various heavy metals mobilized at reduced pH. Results of studies in Scandinavia suggest that aluminum interferes with avian reproduction near acidified lakes. Some amphibian populations located on acid-vulnerable substrates may be adversely affected by reduced pH in the vernal pools used for egg laying and larval growth. Indirect effects on populations are difficult to detect because few historical data exist for wildlife populations and trophic relationships in vulnerable areas. Current research in the U.S.A. focuses on measuring habitat characteristics, food availability, and avian use of vulnerable wetland habitats. Results of Scandinavian studies suggest that some species of waterfowl may prefer acidified, I fish-free habitats because invertebrates essential for meeting nutritional requirements are more easily obtained in the absence of competition from fish. However, avian species dependent on fish would be absent from these habitats. Alteration of either the vegetative structure or primary productivity of wetlands might indirectly affect avian populations by causing decreased invertebrate productivity and consequent food limitations for birds.
Additional Publication Details
Distribution and effects of acidic deposition on wildlife and ecosystems