Recovery of macroinvertebrate species richness in acidified upland waters assessed with a field toxicity model

Anthony Stockdale, Edward Tipping, Arne Fjellheim, Yvind A. Garmo, Alan G. Hildrew, Stephen Lofts, Don T. Monteith, Stephen J. Ormerod, Ewan M. Shilland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The WHAM-FTOX model uses chemical speciation to describe the bioavailability and toxicity of proton and metal mixtures (including Al) to aquatic organisms. Here, we apply the previously parameterised model to 45 UK and Norwegian upland surface waters recovering from acidification, to compare its predictions of the maximum species richness of the macroinvertebrate Orders Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera and Trichoptera (SR-EPT) with time-series observations. This work uses data from two national scale survey programmes, the Acid Waters Monitoring Network in the UK and a lakes survey in Norway. We also investigate data from a long-studied catchment, Llyn Brianne in Wales. For the national surveys, model results relate well with actual trends, with Regional Kendall analysis indicating biological recovery rates for both actual and predicted species richness that are generally consistent (1.2-2.0 species per decade). However, actual recovery rates in AWMN lakes were less than in the rivers (0.6 vs. 2.0 species per decade), whilst predicted rates were similar (1.7 vs. 2.0). Several sites give a very good fit between model predictions and observations; at these sites chemistry is apparently the principal factor controlling limits of species richness. At other sites where there is poorer agreement between model predictions and observations, chemistry can still explain some of the reduction in species richness. However, for these sites, additional (un-modelled) factors further suppress species richness. The model gives a good indication of the extent of these un-modelled factors and the degree to which chemistry may suppress species richness at a given site.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-350
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Indicators
Issue numberPART B
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Acidification
  • Bioavailability
  • Chemical speciation
  • Lakes
  • Macroinvertebrates
  • Modelling
  • Streamwaters
  • Toxicity


Dive into the research topics of 'Recovery of macroinvertebrate species richness in acidified upland waters assessed with a field toxicity model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this