Nav: Home

'Aquatic osteoporosis' jellifying lakes

November 19, 2014

A plague of "aquatic osteoporosis" is spreading throughout many North American soft-water lakes due to declining calcium levels in the water and hindering the survival of some organisms, says new research from Queen's University.

Researchers from Queen's, working with colleagues from York University and the University of Cambridge, as well as other collaborators, have identified a biological shift in many temperate, soft-water lakes in response to declining calcium levels after prolonged periods of acid rain and timber harvesting. The reduced calcium availability is hindering the survival of aquatic organisms with high calcium requirements and promoting the growth of nutrient-poor, jelly-clad animals.

In the study, researchers looked at the microscopic organisms (~1 mm) Daphnia and Holopedium - the latter whose size is greatly increased by its jelly capsule.

"Calcium is an essential nutrient for many lake-dwelling organisms, but concentrations have fallen so low in many lakes that keystone species can no longer survive," says Adam Jeziorski, one of the lead authors of the study and a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biology at Queen's.

The research team found that when calcium levels are low, the water flea Daphnia, which has high calcium requirements, becomes less abundant. Importantly, this keystone species is being replaced by its jelly-clad competitor, Holopedium.

"Conditions now favour animals better adapted to lower calcium levels, and these changes can have significant ecological and environmental repercussions," says Dr. Jeziorski.

Tiny fossils from lake sediments were studied to determine the pre-impact conditions of the lakes as the calcium decline began before monitoring programs were in place. Using this technique, the team was able to examine the environmental trends from the past approximately 150 years.

"Lake sediments act like a history book of past changes in a lake, recording what happened before the problem was identified," says John Smol (Biology), Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change. "Jelly-clad invertebrates have been increasing in an alarming number of lakes. This is likely a long-term effect of acid rain on forest soils, logging and forest regrowth."

The increase in jelly-clad invertebrates can have important implications for lake biology, altering food webs, but can also clog water intakes.

"Many lakes we investigated have passed critical thresholds," says Dr. Smol. "We have been reduced to the role of spectator as these changes continue to unfold. Once again we see there are many unexpected consequences of our actions, most of which are negative."
-end-
This research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

The study is published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B and a number of high-resolution images of the organisms and techniques used in this study can be found on the Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory website.

Queen's University

Related Calcium Articles:

A docking site per calcium channel cluster
In our brain, information is passed from one neuron to the next at a structure called synapse.
Astrophysicists discovered a star polluted by calcium
An international team of astrophysicists led by a scientist from the Sternberg Astronomical Institute of the Lomonosov Moscow State University reported the discovery of a binary solar-type star inside the supernova remnant RCW 86.
Daily reminders to increase calcium intake are effective
Mary Jung, an assistant professor of health and exercise sciences at UBC's Okanagan campus, recently completed a nationwide study with more than 730 Canadians who were not meeting Canada's recommended dietary intake for calcium.
New guideline on calcium and vitamin D supplementation
A new evidence-based clinical guideline from the National Osteoporosis Foundation and the American Society for Preventive Cardiology says that calcium with or without vitamin D intake from food or supplements that does not exceed the tolerable upper level of intake should be considered safe from a cardiovascular standpoint.
Calcium induces chronic lung infections
The bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a life-threatening pathogen in hospitals.
Calcium supplements may damage the heart
After analyzing 10 years of medical tests on more than 2,700 people in a federally funded heart disease study, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and elsewhere conclude that taking calcium in the form of supplements may raise the risk of plaque buildup in arteries and heart damage, although a diet high in calcium-rich foods appears be protective.
Physics researchers question calcium-52's magic
After a multi-institution team's work computing the calcium-48 nucleus, researchers moved on to a larger, heavier, and more complex isotope -- calcium-52 -- and the results surprised them once again.
Study paves way for new therapies in fight against calcium disorders
A study led by researchers at Georgia State University provides new insights into the molecular basis of human diseases resulting from mutations in the calcium-sensing receptor, a protein found in cell membranes.
Calcium channels team up to activate excitable cells
Voltage-gated calcium channels open in unison, rather than independently, to allow calcium ions into and activate excitable cells such as neurons and muscle cells, researchers with UC Davis Health System and the University of Washington have found.
A calcium pump caught in the act
Researchers at Aarhus University have described one of the cell's key enzymes, the calcium pump, in its decisive moment -- a so-called transition state.

Related Calcium Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...