, Volume 790, Issue 1, pp 287–298 | Cite as

Biological recovery of acidified alpine lakes may be delayed by the dispersal limitation of aquatic insect adults

  • Peter Bitušík
  • Marek Svitok
  • Milan Novikmec
  • Katarína Trnková
  • Ladislav Hamerlík
Primary Research Paper


The dispersal of aquatic insects plays an important role in the colonization and recolonization of newly created and previously disturbed habitats. The heavy acidification of some alpine lakes in the Tatra Mountains, Slovakia, was followed by rapid chemical recovery starting in the 1990s; however, the recolonization of aquatic insects has been delayed, potentially due to the limited dispersal of aquatic insects in the alpine environment. Therefore, to investigate dispersal ability of aquatic species in situ, we set up 120 yellow pan traps on 12 transects evenly distributed over a distance of about 600 m between a non-acidified and a formerly acidified alpine lake. A total of 1,202 aquatic insect adults were caught. Chironomidae dominated but adults of Trichoptera, Plecoptera and Ephemeroptera were also recorded. For both lakes the total number of adults declined exponentially with distance from the lakes, and negative binomial models predicted that virtually no imagoes would be found beyond 300 m from the lakes. The majority of species were recorded within 150 m of the lake shore with the exception of two chironomid species. Such a low dispersal potential of aquatic insects between alpine lakes could explain the slow biological recovery of some lakes following disturbance by acidification stress.


Acidification Alpine environment Chironomids EPT Recolonization 



Special thanks go to Ilja Krno and Valerian Franc for identification of some stonefly specimens and terrestrial beetles, respectively. Ingrid Turisová provided information on catchment vegetation. Ferdinand Šporka is acknowledged for his data from an automatic weather station on the prevailing winds in the valley. We also thank Mariana Kaštierová for the map of Tatra Mts. We are grateful to David Hardekopf for linguistic corrections and the two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. The study of the Tatra lakes recovery was co-supported by VEGA 2/0081/13, Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (Project No. P503/14/09231S) and by project ITMS 26210120024 “Renewal and development of infrastructure for ecological and environmental research at UMB”.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 280 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Bitušík
    • 1
  • Marek Svitok
    • 2
  • Milan Novikmec
    • 2
  • Katarína Trnková
    • 1
  • Ladislav Hamerlík
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biology and EcologyMatej Bel UniversityBanská BystricaSlovakia
  2. 2.Department of Biology and General EcologyTechnical University in ZvolenZvolenSlovakia
  3. 3.Department of Quaternary Geology, Institute of Geological SciencesPolish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland

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