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Soil liming mitigates the negative effect of simulated acid rain on the isopod, Porcellio scaber

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Terrestrial isopods are sensitive to variability in the pH-buffering capacity of soils, partly because of their high requirement for calcium. Acid deposition resulting from air pollution can reduce the quality of the environment for isopods and other forest-floor animals through the reduction of available calcium and increased acidity. We examined the potential for calcium carbonate (lime) application in soil to mitigate negative effects of simulated acid deposition on the isopod, Porcellio scaber Latreille (1804), in laboratory microcosms. Growth rate of animals was lower when subjected to strongly acidic simulated precipitation compared to weakly acidic simulated precipitation. Animals in limed microcosms had higher growth rates and lower risk of mortality than those in conditions without lime. Whole-body calcium concentration was higher for isopods in limed than unlimed microcosms receiving strongly acidic simulated precipitation. These results underscore the importance of buffering substrates for isopods and suggest that application of lime may be a productive mitigative technique in areas affected by acid rain.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Colgate University, Hamilton, NY 13346, USA


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