Many lakes in three areas in the Upper Midwest - northeastern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan - have low acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) and may be susceptible to change by acidic deposition. Northcentral Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan together contain about 150-300 acidic lakes (ANC ≤ 0), whereas none have been found in Minnesota. These acidic lakes are precipitation-dominated, Clearwater seepage lakes having small surface area, shallow depth, and low concentrations of dissolved organic carbon. The spatial distribution of these acidic lakes parallels a west to east gradient of increasing sulfate and hydrogen ion deposition. Several of these acidic lakes exhibit chemical characteristics and biological changes consistent with those observed elsewhere in waters reported to be acidified by acidic deposition. However, an hypothesis of recent lake acidification is not supported by analyses of either historical chemical data or diatom remains in lake sediments, and natural sources of acidity and alternative ecological processes have not been conclusively eliminated as causative factors. Streams in this three-state region have high ANC and appear to be insensitive to acidic deposition. The species richness and composition of lacustrine fish communities in the region are partly related to pH and associated chemical factors. Sport fishes considered acid-sensitive and of primary concern with regard to acidification include walleye, smallmouth bass, and black crappie. The fishery in at least one lake, Morgan Lake in Wisconsin (pH 4.6), may have declined because of acidification. Given the general lack of quantitative fishery data for acidic Wisconsin and Michigan lakes, however, more general conclusions concerning impacts or the absence of impacts of acidification on the region's fishery resources are not possible.
Additional publication details
Chemical and biological status of lakes and streams in the upper midwest: assessment of acidic deposition effects