The pH of lake water is often inversely correlated with concentrations of trace metals in the water column. Concentrations of Al, Cd, Ca, Cu, Fe, Hg, Pb, Mg, Mn, Ni, P, and Zn were compared in water, plants, and aquatic insects from three acidified (pH 5.0) and three nonacidified (pH 6.5) constructed wetlands. Concentrations of Zn in water and bur-reed (Sparganium americanum) were higher in acidified wetlands than in nonacidified wetlands. Floating nonrooted plants contained mean concentrations of Fe, Mg, and Mn that were higher than recommended maximum levels for poultry feed. The mean concentrations of all metals in insects were below recommended maximum levels for poultry feed and below levels that cause toxic effects in wild birds. Smaller than expected increases of metal concentrations in the water of acidified wetlands were probably due to limited mobilization of metals from the sediments and insignificant changes in sedimentation of aqueous metals. Calcium was lower in acidified than in nonacidified wetland water, but the Ca content of insects and bur-reed was not lower. Low concentrations of Ca in aquatic insects from both groups of wetlands indicate that calcium-rich crustaceans and mollusks are probably important to female waterfowl and their young during the spring, when invertebrates make up the majority of the diet. Although toxic effects from metal ingestion seem to be unlikely consequences of wetland acidification, the adverse effect of low pH on the occurrence of crustaceans and mollusks could threaten egg production and development of young.
Additional publication details
Effects of acidification on metal accumulation by aquatic plants and invertebrates. 1. Constructed wetlands