Terrestrial liming to promote Atlantic Salmon recovery in Nova Scotia – approaches needed and knowledge gained after a trial application
S. M. Sterling1,*, C. Angelidis1, M. Armstrong1, K. M. Biagi1, T. A. Clair1,*, N. Jackson1, and A. Breen21Earth Sciences and Environmental Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada 2Bluenose Coastal Action Foundation, Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, Canada *now at: Wood Buffalo Environmental Association, Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada
Received: 05 Aug 2014 – Accepted for review: 17 Aug 2014 – Discussion started: 05 Sep 2014
Abstract. Populations of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in Southwest Nova Scotia (SWNS) have plummeted since the 1980s. Acidification is considered a main threat to this population. The lakes and streams of SWNS were among the most heavily acidified in North America during the last century and calcium levels are predicted to continue to fall in coming decades. One of the most promising mitigation options to reduce the risk of extirpation of the SWNS Salmo salar is terrestrial liming; however, both the chemistry of SWNS rivers, and effective strategies for terrestrial liming in SWNS are poorly understood. Here we have launched the first terrestrial liming study in Nova Scotia, employing a test hydrologic source area liming strategy in a 5 ha experimental catchment in SWNS, Maria Brook; we apply an average local application rate of 13 t ha−1 to 10% of the 47 ha catchment. We employ high frequency stream monitoring to complement grab sampling to identify which constituents pose a threat to Salmo salar and to identify strategies for larger scale terrestrial liming that would fit the local conditions. Results indicate that the water chemistry conditions are currently at toxic levels for Salmo salar throughout the year, with levels of ionic aluminium exceeding toxic thresholds almost 100% of the time. The stream chemistry in Maria Brook is remarkably similar to pre-recovery conditions in other heavily acidified watersheds, such as Birkenes in Norway. Our results support the hypothesis that there has been no recovery from acidification in SWNS. Results from the first year of post-liming do not show an improvement in stream chemistry levels, and further lime application is needed to improve the water chemistry conditions to needed levels for the recovery of Salmo salar.
Sterling, S. M., Angelidis, C., Armstrong, M., Biagi, K. M., Clair, T. A., Jackson, N., and Breen, A.: Terrestrial liming to promote Atlantic Salmon recovery in Nova Scotia – approaches needed and knowledge gained after a trial application, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 11, 10117-10156, doi:10.5194/hessd-11-10117-2014, 2014.