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Biodiversity of Freshwater Diatom Communities during 1000 Years of Metal Mining, Land Use, and Climate Change in Central Sweden

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Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology and Applied Ecology, Department of Applied Ecology and Environmental Biology, Ghent University, Plateaustraat 22, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Limnology Unit, Department of Biology, Ghent University, K. L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Gent, Belgium
§ Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Umeå University, KBC-huset, plan 5, Linnaeus väg 6, Umeå, Sweden
Department of Mathematical Modelling, Statistics and Bioinformatics, Ghent University, Coupure Links 653, 9000 Gent, Belgium
Centre for Statistical and Survey Methodology, School of Mathematics and Applied Statistics, University of Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
Cite this: Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 16, 9097–9105
Publication Date (Web):July 24, 2012
Copyright © 2012 American Chemical Society

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    We subjected a unique set of high-quality paleoecological data to statistical modeling to examine if the biological richness and evenness of freshwater diatom communities in the Falun area, a historical copper (Cu) mining region in central Sweden, was negatively influenced by 1000 years of metal exposure. Contrary to ecotoxicological predictions, we found no negative relation between biodiversity and the sedimentary concentrations of eight metals. Strikingly, our analysis listed metals (Co, Fe, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb) or the fractional land cover of cultivated crops, meadow, and herbs indicating land disturbance as potentially promoting biodiversity. However, correlation between metal- and land-cover trends prevented concluding which of these two covariate types positively affected biodiversity. Because historical aqueous metal concentrations—inferred from solid-water partitioning—approached experimental toxicity thresholds for freshwater algae, positive effects of metal mining on biodiversity are unlikely. Instead, the positive relationship between biodiversity and historical land-cover change can be explained by the increasing proportion of opportunistic species when anthropogenic disturbance intensifies. Our analysis illustrates that focusing on the direct toxic effects of metals alone may yield inaccurate environmental assessments on time scales relevant for biodiversity conservation.

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    Cited By

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    1. William H. Clements, David B. Herbst, Michelle I. Hornberger, Christopher A. Mebane, Terry M. Short. Long-term monitoring reveals convergent patterns of recovery from mining contamination across 4 western US watersheds. Freshwater Science 2021, 40 (2) , 407-426.
    2. Madi Perrett, Branaavan Sivarajah, Cynthia L. Cheney, Jennifer B. Korosi, Linda Kimpe, Jules M. Blais, John P. Smol. Impacts on aquatic biota from salinization and metalloid contamination by gold mine tailings in sub-Arctic lakes. Environmental Pollution 2021, 278 , 116815.
    3. Thijs Van der Meeren, Dirk Verschuren. Zoobenthos community turnover in a 1650‐yr lake‐sediment record of climate‐driven hydrological change. Ecosphere 2021, 12 (1)
    4. Joyce S. Clemente, Philippa Huntsman. Potential climate change effects on the geochemical stability of waste and mobility of elements in receiving environments for Canadian metal mines south of 60°N. Environmental Reviews 2019, 27 (4) , 478-518.
    5. Brian A. Wolff, Sam B. Duggan, William H. Clements, . Resilience and regime shifts: Do novel communities impede ecological recovery in a historically metal‐contaminated stream?. Journal of Applied Ecology 2019, 56 (12) , 2698-2709.
    6. Aloisie Poulíčková, Kalina Manoylov. Ecology of Freshwater Diatoms – Current Trends and Applications. 2019, 289-309.
    7. Scott D. Odell, Anthony Bebbington, Karen E. Frey. Mining and climate change: A review and framework for analysis. The Extractive Industries and Society 2018, 5 (1) , 201-214.
    8. Frederik De Laender, Carlos J. Melian, Richard Bindler, Paul J. Van den Brink, Michiel Daam, Helene Roussel, Jonas Juselius, Dirk Verschuren, Colin R. Janssen, . The contribution of intra- and interspecific tolerance variability to biodiversity changes along toxicity gradients. Ecology Letters 2014, 17 (1) , 72-81.
    9. Frederik De Laender, Colin R Janssen. Brief communication: The ecosystem perspective in ecotoxicology as a way forward for the ecological risk assessment of chemicals. Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management 2013, 9 (3) , e34-e38.
    10. K.P.J. Viaene, F. De Laender, P.J. Van den Brink, C.R. Janssen. Using additive modelling to quantify the effect of chemicals on phytoplankton diversity and biomass. Science of The Total Environment 2013, 449 , 71-80.

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