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Posted Wed Dec 17 2008: from Queen:
Study links ecosystem changes in temperate lakes to climate warming
The scientists studied changes over the last few decades in the species composition of small, microscopic algae preserved in sediments from more than 200 lake systems in the northern hemisphere. These algae dominate the plankton that float at or near the surface of lakes, and serve as food for other larger organisms. Striking ecosystem changes were recorded from a large suite of lakes from Arctic, alpine and temperate ecozones in North America and western Europe. Aquatic ecosystem changes across the circumpolar Arctic were found to occur in the late-19th and early 20th centuries. These were similar to shifts in algal communities, indicating decreased ice cover and related changes, over the last few decades in the temperate lakes.... "The widespread occurrence of these trends is particularly troubling as they suggest that climatically-induced ecological thresholds have already been crossed, even with temperature increases that are below projected future warming scenarios for these regions," adds Dr. Paterson.... "We are entering unchartered territory, the effects of which can cascade throughout the entire ecosystem," concludes Dr. Smol.
[Read more stories about: climate impacts, anthropogenic change, faster than expected, feedback loop]

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