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High-Mountain Lakes, Indicators of Global Change: Ecological Characterization and Environmental Pressures

High-Mountain Lakes, Indicators of Global Change: Ecological Characterization and Environmental... diversity Editorial High-Mountain Lakes, Indicators of Global Change: Ecological Characterization and Environmental Pressures Paolo Pastorino * and Marino Prearo The Veterinary Medical Research Institute for Piemonte, Liguria and Valle d’Aosta, Via Bologna 148, 10154 Torino, Italy; marino.prearo@izsto.it * Correspondence: paolo.pastorino@izsto.it; Tel.: +39-011-268-6295 Received: 23 June 2020; Accepted: 24 June 2020; Published: 26 June 2020 Abstract: Though mountain lakes are generally much less influenced by human activities than other habitats, global and local anthropogenic threats can alter their natural condition. The most alarming threats are climate change, water exploitation and abstraction, alien species introduction, and the medium-long range atmospheric transport of contaminates. Moreover, tourism and mountain farming are two other major sources of organic pollutants that can pose a threat to local aquatic biodiversity. Papers submitted to this Special Issue should be original contributions, with a focus on ecological and morphological characterization, environmental pressures (i.e., alien species introduction, environmental contaminates), and the use of bioindicators/tracers to inform adequate management plans. Keywords: environmental contaminates; climate change; hydrochemistry; alien species; biotic components; bioindicators; paleolimnology 1. Introduction High-mountain lakes are remote and extreme ecosystems subject to harsh climatic conditions. Due to the extreme winter temperatures, only alpine prairies or sparse vegetation can grow above the tree line [1]. During most of the year (from October–November to June–July), snow and ice cover the lakes, blocking sunlight from penetrating the underlying water column [2]. Without the penetration of light, photosynthesis cannot take place and the lakes remain in darkness [3], becoming heterotrophic systems isolated from the surrounding area until the ice cover breaks. When the snow melts in early summer, the lakes quickly shift from extremely low to extremely high solar irradiance, with increasing levels of UV radiation directly correlated to altitude [4]. The light can penetrate deeply owing to the low attenuation coecient of clear water [5]. The ice-free season lasts for a few months, generally from mid-June to late October. During this brief period of ideal conditions, aquatic organisms can complete their life cycle before the snow covers the lakes again. Harsh environmental conditions limit the biodiversity of these ecosystems [6]. Starkweather [7] underlined a negative correlation between altitude and species richness: high-altitude communities have scarce resource availability, lower habitat complexity, and exist under extreme physicochemical conditions. The hydrochemistry of Alpine lakes is conditioned by the chemical composition of atmospheric deposition and by climate factors [8,9], making them early response indicators of climate change [10], atmospheric deposition, and air pollution [11]. Though they are generally much less influenced by human activities than other habitats, global and local anthropogenic threats to mountain lakes can alter their natural condition. The most alarming threats are water abstraction and exploitation [12], Diversity 2020, 12, 260; doi:10.3390/d12060260 www.mdpi.com/journal/diversity Diversity 2020, 12, 260 2 of 5 alien species introduction [13–15], climate change [9,16], and the medium-long range atmospheric transport of contaminates [17,18]. Moreover, tourism and mountain farming are two other major sources of organic pollutants that can threaten local aquatic biodiversity [19]. 1.1. Water Exploitation and Abstraction Water level fluctuation and exploitation can have huge e ects on mountain-lake biodiversity [12], particularly on macroinvertebrates, planktonic communities, and littoral vegetation. Furthermore, the construction of mountain dams has favored the introduction of fish for sport fishing [12]. Moreover, water abstraction can alter the hydrological regimes of outlet rivers, with consequences for freshwater biodiversity downstream [12,20]. 1.2. Climate Change Among the ecosystems most sensitive to climate change, mountains are a ected at a faster rate than other terrestrial habitats [21–23]. Increased air temperature means a shorter snow cover and an earlier snowmelt [24]. The impact of climate change poses a serious threat to ecosystem services and the organisms depending on them [23]. Temperature a ects numerous aquatic ecosystem functions, influencing metabolic rate, mixing the dynamics of primary productivity and of the entire food web [25–28], and causing loss of biodiversity [29]. Rogora et al. [16] observed the negative e ects on Alpine and Apennine freshwater lakes of increases in solutes, decreases in nitrates, and changes in plankton phenology and benthos communities. 1.3. Alien Species Introduction Mountain lakes are sensitive to the ecological damage caused by the invasion of alien species [30]. The low taxon richness of high-mountain freshwaters reflects the fact that these habitats are not species-saturated and are susceptible to invasive species or species that are expanding their ranges due to climate change [31]. The threat to their biodiversity is greater due to the low diversity and structure of such communities [32]. The lakes were originally fishless because they are isolated ecosystems [33], but their fish stocking with salmonid species is a widespread practice worldwide [34]. The release of fish for recreational fishing has a huge impact on the ecology of amphibians, macroinvertebrates, and zooplankton [19]. Paleolimnology provides ideal opportunities for studying global change and ecological changes in mountain lakes over time [35]. For example, Perilli et al. [36] highlighted significant di erences in subfossil chironomid communities before and after fish introduction and between subfossil and modern communities, with a notable recent decrease in the biodiversity of a high-mountain lake in the northwestern Alps. The introduction of fish may also cause sanitary risks to native aquatic biodiversity [15]. Furthermore, transhumance can act as a driver of pathogens in these remote ecosystems. Animal excrement from cows and sheep grazing on meadows around the lake shoreline can introduce pathogenic bacteria into the lake water and harm susceptible species [15]. 1.4. Medium-Long Range Atmospheric Transport of Contaminates Human emissions have changed the chemistry of the atmosphere. High-mountain ecosystems are areas of regional convergence of atmospheric pollutants: due to their high elevation, mountains intercept the flux of chemicals coming from the lowland [37]. Moreover, the deposition of volatile compounds by condensation is favored by the lower temperature at the summit compared to the valley bottom [37]. Environmental studies have largely investigated nitrogen and sulfur oxide emission into the atmosphere [38], trace element contamination [39–42], organohalogenated and polybrominated diphenyl ether compounds [43–45], and organochlorine pesticides [45,46]. Diversity 2020, 12, 260 3 of 5 High-mountain lakes are considered “natural laboratories” where global changes in water quality and biodiversity can be investigated [16,31] and the large-scale e ects of anthropogenic activities assessed [47]. Diversity has dedicated a Special Issue to high-mountain lakes, with a focus on their ecological characterization and environmental pressures. Contributions should be original articles on the following topics: morphological characterization of mountain lakes by means of conventional or new methods and technologies (unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned surface vehicles); hydrochemistry; ecological characterization using bioindicators (e.g., phyto-zooplankton, diatoms, ostracods, macroinvertebrates, fish); environmental DNA (eDNA), which is being increasingly used for assessing the presence and relative abundance of aquatic organisms (i.e., elusive organisms); environmental pressures: alien species introduction and environmental contaminates; the use of new bioindicators/tracers of environmental contamination; the condition and structure of amphibian populations; fish diseases, bacteria or parasites isolated in aquatic organisms; paleolimnological studies: lake sediments can serve as an archive for paleoclimatic-paleoenvironmental reconstruction. The aim is to stimulate and collect new research data from high-mountain lakes from around the world. Although most of the core information is derived from the Pyrenees and the Alps, we encourage the submission of data from wherever the high-mountain lake is a valuable concept. For more information, please contact the editors. Funding: This research received no external funding. Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest. References 1. Hinder, B.; Gabathuler, M.; Steiner, B.; Hanselmann, K.; Preisig, H.R. Seasonal dynamics and phytoplankton diversity in high mountain lakes (Jöri lakes, Swiss Alps). J. Limnol. 1999, 58, 152–161. [CrossRef] 2. Felip, M.; Wille, A.; Sattler, B.; Psenner, R. Microbial communities in the winter cover and the water column of an alpine lake: System connectivity and uncoupling. Aquat. Microb. Ecol. 2002, 29, 123–134. [CrossRef] 3. Ventelä, A.; Saarikari, V.; Vuorio, K. Vertical and seasonal distributions of microorganisms, zooplankton and phytoplankton in a eutrophic lake. Hydrobiologia 1998, 363, 229–240. [CrossRef] 4. Vinebrooke, R.D.; Leavitt, P.R. E ects of ultraviolet radiation on periphyton in an alpine lake. Limnol. Oceanogr. 1996, 41, 1035–1040. [CrossRef] 5. Scully, N.M.; Lean, D.R.S. The attenuation of ultraviolet radiation in temperate lakes. Ergeb. Limnol. 1994, 43, 135. 6. Pastorino, P.; Prearo, M.; Pizzul, E.; Bertoli, M.; Francese, D.R.; Menconi, V.; Mugetti, D.; Bozzetta, E.; Varello, K. Hepatic Steatosis in a Bullhead (Cottus gobio) Population from a High-Mountain Lake (Carnic Alps): Adaptation to an Extreme Ecosystem? Water 2019, 11, 2570. [CrossRef] 7. Starkweather, P.L. Zooplankton community structure of high elevation lakes: Biogeographic and predator-prey interactions. Int. Ver. Theor. Angew. Limnol. Verh. 1990, 24, 513–517. [CrossRef] 8. Haeberli, W.; Schaub, Y.; Huggel, C. Increasing risks related to landslides from degrading permafrost into new lakes in de-glaciating mountain ranges. Geomorphology 2017, 293, 405–417. [CrossRef] 9. Rogora, M.; Mosello, R.; Arisci, S. The e ect of climate warming on the hydrochemistry of alpine lakes. Water Air Soil Pollut. 2003, 148, 347–361. [CrossRef] 10. McGregor, J.L. Regional climate modelling. Meteorol. Atmos. Phys. 1997, 63, 105–117. [CrossRef] 11. Rogora, M.; Massaferro, J.; Marchetto, A.; Tartari, G.; Mosello, R. The water chemistry of some shallow lakes in Northern Patagonia and their nitrogen status in comparison with remote lakes in di erent regions of the globe. J. Limnol. 2008, 67, 75–86. [CrossRef] Diversity 2020, 12, 260 4 of 5 12. Tiberti, R.; Buscaglia, F.; Armodi, M.; Callieri, C.; Ribelli, F.; Rogora, M.; Tartari, G.; Bocca, M. Mountain lakes of Mont Avic Natural Park: Ecological features and conservation issues. J. Limnol. 2019, 79, 43–58. [CrossRef] 13. Eby, L.A.; Roach, W.J.; Crowder, L.B.; Stanford, J.A. E ects of stocking-up freshwater food webs. Trends Ecol. Evol. 2006, 21, 576–584. [CrossRef] [PubMed] 14. Pastorino, P.; Prearo, M.; Bertoli, M.; Menconi, V.; Esposito, G.; Righetti, M.; Mugetti, D.; Pederiva, S.; Abete, M.C.; Pizzul, E. Assessment of Biological and Sanitary Condition of Alien Fish from a High-Mountain Lake (Cottian Alps). Water 2020, 12, 559. [CrossRef] 15. Pastorino, P.; Polazzo, F.; Bertoli, M.; Morena, S.; Marzia, R.; Pizzul, E.; Marino, P. Consequences of fish introduction in fishless Alpine lakes: Preliminary notes from a sanitary point of view. Turk. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2018, 20, 1–8. 16. Rogora, M.; Frate, L.; Carranza, M.; Freppaz, M.; Stanisci, A.; Bertani, I.; Bottarin, R.; Brambilla, A.; Canullo, R.; Carbognani, M.; et al. Assessment of climate change e ects on mountain ecosystems through a cross-site analysis in the Alps and Apennines. Sci. Total. Environ. 2018, 624, 1429–1442. [CrossRef] 17. Ørbæk, J.B.; Kallenborn, R.; Tombre, I.; Hegseth, E.N.; Falk-Petersen, S.; Hoel, A.H. Integrated aspects of environmental change: Climate change, UV radiation and long range transport of pollutants. In Arctic Alpine Ecosystems and People in a Changing Environment; Ørbæk, J.B., Kallenborn, R., Tombre, I., Hegseth, E.N., Falk-Petersen, S., Hoel, A.H., Eds.; Springer: Berlin/Heidelberg, Germany, 2007; pp. 3–18. 18. Camarero, L.; Rogora, M.; Mosello, R.; Anderson, N.J.; Barbieri, A.; Botev, I.; Kernan, M.; Kopàcek, ´ J.; Korhola, A.; Lotter, A.F.; et al. Regionalization of chemical variability in European mountain lakes. Freshwater Biol. 2009, 54, 2452–2469. [CrossRef] 19. Tiberti, R.; von Hardenberg, A.; Bogliani, G. Ecological impact of introduced fish in high altitude lakes: A case of study from the European Alps. Hydrobiologia 2014, 724, 1–19. [CrossRef] 20. Chacon-Torres, A.; Rosas-Monge, C. Water quality characteristics of a high altitude oligotrophic Mexican lake. Aquat. Ecosyst. Health 1998, 1, 237–243. [CrossRef] 21. Auer, I.; Bohm, R.; Jurkovic, A.; Lipa, W.; Orlik, A.; Potzmann, R.; Schoner, W.; Ungersbock, M.; Matulla, C.; Bri a, K.; et al. HISTALP—Historical instrumental climatological surface time series of the Greater Alpine Region. Int. J. Climatol. 2007, 27, 17–46. [CrossRef] 22. Gobiet, A.; Kotlarski, S.; Beniston, M.; Heinrich, G.; Rajczak, J.; Sto el, M. 21st century climate change in the European Alps-a review. Sci Total Environ 2014, 493, 1138–1151. [CrossRef] [PubMed] 23. Sadro, S.; Melack, J.M.; Sickman, J.O.; Skeen, K. Climate warming response of mountain lakes a ected by variations in snow. Limnol. Oceanogr. 2019, 4, 9–17. [CrossRef] 24. Viviroli, D.; Archer, D.R.; Buytaert, W.; Fowler, H.J.; Greenwood, G.B.; Hamlet, A.F.; Huang, Y.; Koboltschnig, G.; Litaor, M.I.; López-Moreno, J.I.; et al. Climate change and mountain water resources: Overview and recommendations for research, management and policy. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 2011, 15, 471–504. [CrossRef] 25. Parker, B.R.; Vinebrooke, R.D.; Schindler, D.W. Recent climate extremes alter alpine lake ecosystems. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2008, 105, 12927–12931. [CrossRef] 26. Woodward, G.; Perkins, D.M.; Brown, L.E. Climate change and freshwater ecosystems: Impacts across multiple levels of organization. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. B Biol. Sci. 2010, 365, 2093–2106. [CrossRef] 27. Greig, H.S.; Kratina, P.; Thompson, P.L.; Palen, W.J.; Richardson, J.S.; Shurin, J.B. Warming, eutrophication, and predator loss amplify subsidies between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Glob. Chang. Biol. 2012, 18, 504–514. [CrossRef] 28. Preston, D.L.; Caine, N.; McKnight, D.M.; Williams, M.W.; Hell, K.; Miller, M.P.; Hart, S.J.; Johnson, P.T.J. Climate regulates alpine lake ice cover phenology and aquatic ecosystem structure: Climate and alpine lakes. Geophys. Res. Lett. 2016, 43, 5353–5360. [CrossRef] 29. Kafash, A.; Ashrafi, S.; Ohler, A.; Yousefi, M.; Malakoutikhah, S.; Koehler, G.; Schmidt, B.R. Climate change produces winners and losers: Di erential responses of amphibians in mountain forests of the Near East. Glob. Ecol. Conserv. 2018, 16, e00471. [CrossRef] 30. Schindler, D.W.; Parker, B.R. Biological pollutants: Alien fishes in mountain lakes. Water Air Soil Pollut. 2002, 2, 379–397. [CrossRef] 31. Rosset, V.; Oertli, B.; Angélibert, S.; Indermuehle, N. The local diversity of macroinvertebrates in alpine ponds as an indicator of global change: A gastropod case-study. Verh. Intern. Ver. Limnol. 2008, 30, 482–484. [CrossRef] Diversity 2020, 12, 260 5 of 5 32. Ricciardi, A. Facilitative interactions among aquatic invaders: Is an “invasional meltdown” occurring in the Great Lakes? Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2001, 58, 2513–2525. [CrossRef] 33. Brancelj, A. The extinction of Arctodiaptomus alpinus (Copepoda) following the introduction of char into a small alpine lake Dvojno Jezero (NW Slovenia). Aquat. Ecol. 1999, 33, 355–361. [CrossRef] 34. Ventura, M.; Tiberti, R.; Buchaca, T.; Buñay, D.; Sabás, I.; Miró, A. Why should we preserve fishless high mountain lakes? In High Mountain Conservation in a Changing World; Catalan, J., Josep, M., Ninot, M., Mercè Aniz, E., Eds.; Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2017; pp. 181–205. 35. Moser, K.A.; Baron, J.S.; Brahney, J.; Oleksy, I.A.; Saros, J.E.; Hundey, E.J.; Sadro, S.A.; Kopácek, ˇ J.; Sommaruga, R.; Kainz, M.J.; et al. Mountain lakes: Eyes on global environmental change. Glob. Planet Chang. 2019, 178, 77–95. [CrossRef] 36. Perilli, S.; Pastorino, P.; Bertoli, M.; Salvi, G.; Franz, F.; Prearo, M.; Pizzul, E. Changes in midge assemblages (Diptera Chironomidae) in an alpine lake from the Italian Western Alps: The role and importance of fish introduction. Hydrobiologia 2020, 847, 2393–2415. [CrossRef] 37. Camarero, L. Atmospheric chemical loadings in the high mountain: Current forcing and legacy pollution. In High Mountain Conservation in a Changing World; Catalan, J., Josep, M., Ninot, M., Mercè Aniz, E., Eds.; Springer: Cham, Switzerland, 2017; pp. 325–341. 38. Curtis, C.J.; Botev, I.; Camarero, L.; Catalan, J.; Cogalniceanu, D.; Hughes, M.; Kernan, M.; Kopácek, J.; Korhola, A.; Psenner, R.; et al. Acidification in European mountain lake districts: A regional assessment of critical load exceedance. Aquat. Sci. 2005, 67, 237–251. [CrossRef] 39. Camarero, L.; Botev, I.; Muri, G.; Psenner, R.; Rose, N.; Stuchlík, E. Trace elements in alpine and arctic lake sediments as a record of di use atmospheric contamination across Europe. Freshw. Biol. 2009, 54, 2518–2532. [CrossRef] 40. Pastorino, P.; Pizzul, E.; Bertoli, M.; Perilli, S.; Brizio, P.; Salvi, G.; Esposito, G.; Abete, M.C.; Prearo, M.; Squadrone, S. Macrobenthic invertebrates as bioindicators of trace elements in high-mountain lakes. Environ. Sci. Pollut. R. 2020, 27, 5958–5970. [CrossRef] 41. Pastorino, P.; Elia, A.C.; Caldaroni, B.; Menconi, V.; Abete, M.C.; Brizio, P.; Bertoli, M.; Zaccaroni, A.; Magara, G.; Dörr, A.M.J.; et al. Oxidative stress ecology in brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) from a high-mountain lake (Cottian Alps). Sci. Total Environ. 2020, 715, 136946. [CrossRef] 42. Pastorino, P.; Prearo, M.; Bertoli, M.; Abete, M.C.; Dondo, A.; Salvi, G.; Zaccaroni, A.; Elia, A.C.; Pizzul, E. Accumulation of As, Cd, Pb, and Zn in sediment, chironomids and fish from a high-mountain lake: First insights from the Carnic Alps. Sci. Total Environ. 2020, 729, 139007. [CrossRef] 43. Vilanova, R.; Fernández, P.; Martínez, C.; Grimalt, J.O. Organochlorine pollutants in remote mountain lake waters. J. Environ. Qual. 2001, 30, 1286–1295. [CrossRef] 44. Bartrons Vilamala, M.; Grimalt Obrador, J.; Catalan, J. Food web bioaccumulation of organohalogenated compounds in high mountain lakes. Limnetica 2012, 31, 0155–0164. 45. Blais, J.M.; Charpentié, S.; Pick, F.; Kimpe, L.E.; Amand, A.S.; Regnault-Roger, C. Mercury, polybrominated diphenyl ether, organochlorine pesticide, and polychlorinated biphenyl concentrations in fish from lakes along an elevation transect in the French Pyrénées. Ecotox. Environ. Safe 2006, 63, 91–99. [CrossRef] [PubMed] 46. Yang, R.; Yao, T.; Xu, B.; Jiang, G.; Xin, X. Accumulation features of organochlorine pesticides and heavy metals in fish from high mountain lakes and Lhasa River in the Tibetan Plateau. Environ. Int. 2007, 33, 151–156. [CrossRef] [PubMed] 47. Battarbee, R.W.; Kernan, M.; Rose, N. Threatened and stressed mountain lakes of Europe: Assessment and progress. Aquat. Ecosyst. Health 2009, 12, 118–128. [CrossRef] © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Diversity Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

High-Mountain Lakes, Indicators of Global Change: Ecological Characterization and Environmental Pressures

Diversity , Volume 12 (6) – Jun 26, 2020

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diversity Editorial High-Mountain Lakes, Indicators of Global Change: Ecological Characterization and Environmental Pressures Paolo Pastorino * and Marino Prearo The Veterinary Medical Research Institute for Piemonte, Liguria and Valle d’Aosta, Via Bologna 148, 10154 Torino, Italy; marino.prearo@izsto.it * Correspondence: paolo.pastorino@izsto.it; Tel.: +39-011-268-6295 Received: 23 June 2020; Accepted: 24 June 2020; Published: 26 June 2020 Abstract: Though mountain lakes are generally much less influenced by human activities than other habitats, global and local anthropogenic threats can alter their natural condition. The most alarming threats are climate change, water exploitation and abstraction, alien species introduction, and the medium-long range atmospheric transport of contaminates. Moreover, tourism and mountain farming are two other major sources of organic pollutants that can pose a threat to local aquatic biodiversity. Papers submitted to this Special Issue should be original contributions, with a focus on ecological and morphological characterization, environmental pressures (i.e., alien species introduction, environmental contaminates), and the use of bioindicators/tracers to inform adequate management plans. Keywords: environmental contaminates; climate change; hydrochemistry; alien species; biotic components; bioindicators; paleolimnology 1. Introduction High-mountain lakes are remote and extreme ecosystems subject to harsh climatic conditions. Due to the extreme winter temperatures, only alpine prairies or sparse vegetation can grow above the tree line [1]. During most of the year (from October–November to June–July), snow and ice cover the lakes, blocking sunlight from penetrating the underlying water column [2]. Without the penetration of light, photosynthesis cannot take place and the lakes remain in darkness [3], becoming heterotrophic systems isolated from the surrounding area until the ice cover breaks. When the snow melts in early summer, the lakes quickly shift from extremely low to extremely high solar irradiance, with increasing levels of UV radiation directly correlated to altitude [4]. The light can penetrate deeply owing to the low attenuation coecient of clear water [5]. The ice-free season lasts for a few months, generally from mid-June to late October. During this brief period of ideal conditions, aquatic organisms can complete their life cycle before the snow covers the lakes again. Harsh environmental conditions limit the biodiversity of these ecosystems [6]. Starkweather [7] underlined a negative correlation between altitude and species richness: high-altitude communities have scarce resource availability, lower habitat complexity, and exist under extreme physicochemical conditions. The hydrochemistry of Alpine lakes is conditioned by the chemical composition of atmospheric deposition and by climate factors [8,9], making them early response indicators of climate change [10], atmospheric deposition, and air pollution [11]. Though they are generally much less influenced by human activities than other habitats, global and local anthropogenic threats to mountain lakes can alter their natural condition. The most alarming threats are water abstraction and exploitation [12], Diversity 2020, 12, 260; doi:10.3390/d12060260 www.mdpi.com/journal/diversity Diversity 2020, 12, 260 2 of 5 alien species introduction [13–15], climate change [9,16], and the medium-long range atmospheric transport of contaminates [17,18]. Moreover, tourism and mountain farming are two other major sources of organic pollutants that can threaten local aquatic biodiversity [19]. 1.1. Water Exploitation and Abstraction Water level fluctuation and exploitation can have huge e ects on mountain-lake biodiversity [12], particularly on macroinvertebrates, planktonic communities, and littoral vegetation. Furthermore, the construction of mountain dams has favored the introduction of fish for sport fishing [12]. Moreover, water abstraction can alter the hydrological regimes of outlet rivers, with consequences for freshwater biodiversity downstream [12,20]. 1.2. Climate Change Among the ecosystems most sensitive to climate change, mountains are a ected at a faster rate than other terrestrial habitats [21–23]. Increased air temperature means a shorter snow cover and an earlier snowmelt [24]. The impact of climate change poses a serious threat to ecosystem services and the organisms depending on them [23]. Temperature a ects numerous aquatic ecosystem functions, influencing metabolic rate, mixing the dynamics of primary productivity and of the entire food web [25–28], and causing loss of biodiversity [29]. Rogora et al. [16] observed the negative e ects on Alpine and Apennine freshwater lakes of increases in solutes, decreases in nitrates, and changes in plankton phenology and benthos communities. 1.3. Alien Species Introduction Mountain lakes are sensitive to the ecological damage caused by the invasion of alien species [30]. The low taxon richness of high-mountain freshwaters reflects the fact that these habitats are not species-saturated and are susceptible to invasive species or species that are expanding their ranges due to climate change [31]. The threat to their biodiversity is greater due to the low diversity and structure of such communities [32]. The lakes were originally fishless because they are isolated ecosystems [33], but their fish stocking with salmonid species is a widespread practice worldwide [34]. The release of fish for recreational fishing has a huge impact on the ecology of amphibians, macroinvertebrates, and zooplankton [19]. Paleolimnology provides ideal opportunities for studying global change and ecological changes in mountain lakes over time [35]. For example, Perilli et al. [36] highlighted significant di erences in subfossil chironomid communities before and after fish introduction and between subfossil and modern communities, with a notable recent decrease in the biodiversity of a high-mountain lake in the northwestern Alps. The introduction of fish may also cause sanitary risks to native aquatic biodiversity [15]. Furthermore, transhumance can act as a driver of pathogens in these remote ecosystems. Animal excrement from cows and sheep grazing on meadows around the lake shoreline can introduce pathogenic bacteria into the lake water and harm susceptible species [15]. 1.4. Medium-Long Range Atmospheric Transport of Contaminates Human emissions have changed the chemistry of the atmosphere. High-mountain ecosystems are areas of regional convergence of atmospheric pollutants: due to their high elevation, mountains intercept the flux of chemicals coming from the lowland [37]. Moreover, the deposition of volatile compounds by condensation is favored by the lower temperature at the summit compared to the valley bottom [37]. Environmental studies have largely investigated nitrogen and sulfur oxide emission into the atmosphere [38], trace element contamination [39–42], organohalogenated and polybrominated diphenyl ether compounds [43–45], and organochlorine pesticides [45,46]. Diversity 2020, 12, 260 3 of 5 High-mountain lakes are considered “natural laboratories” where global changes in water quality and biodiversity can be investigated [16,31] and the large-scale e ects of anthropogenic activities assessed [47]. Diversity has dedicated a Special Issue to high-mountain lakes, with a focus on their ecological characterization and environmental pressures. Contributions should be original articles on the following topics: morphological characterization of mountain lakes by means of conventional or new methods and technologies (unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned surface vehicles); hydrochemistry; ecological characterization using bioindicators (e.g., phyto-zooplankton, diatoms, ostracods, macroinvertebrates, fish); environmental DNA (eDNA), which is being increasingly used for assessing the presence and relative abundance of aquatic organisms (i.e., elusive organisms); environmental pressures: alien species introduction and environmental contaminates; the use of new bioindicators/tracers of environmental contamination; the condition and structure of amphibian populations; fish diseases, bacteria or parasites isolated in aquatic organisms; paleolimnological studies: lake sediments can serve as an archive for paleoclimatic-paleoenvironmental reconstruction. The aim is to stimulate and collect new research data from high-mountain lakes from around the world. Although most of the core information is derived from the Pyrenees and the Alps, we encourage the submission of data from wherever the high-mountain lake is a valuable concept. For more information, please contact the editors. Funding: This research received no external funding. Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest. References 1. Hinder, B.; Gabathuler, M.; Steiner, B.; Hanselmann, K.; Preisig, H.R. Seasonal dynamics and phytoplankton diversity in high mountain lakes (Jöri lakes, Swiss Alps). J. Limnol. 1999, 58, 152–161. [CrossRef] 2. Felip, M.; Wille, A.; Sattler, B.; Psenner, R. Microbial communities in the winter cover and the water column of an alpine lake: System connectivity and uncoupling. Aquat. Microb. Ecol. 2002, 29, 123–134. [CrossRef] 3. Ventelä, A.; Saarikari, V.; Vuorio, K. Vertical and seasonal distributions of microorganisms, zooplankton and phytoplankton in a eutrophic lake. Hydrobiologia 1998, 363, 229–240. [CrossRef] 4. Vinebrooke, R.D.; Leavitt, P.R. E ects of ultraviolet radiation on periphyton in an alpine lake. Limnol. Oceanogr. 1996, 41, 1035–1040. [CrossRef] 5. Scully, N.M.; Lean, D.R.S. The attenuation of ultraviolet radiation in temperate lakes. Ergeb. Limnol. 1994, 43, 135. 6. Pastorino, P.; Prearo, M.; Pizzul, E.; Bertoli, M.; Francese, D.R.; Menconi, V.; Mugetti, D.; Bozzetta, E.; Varello, K. Hepatic Steatosis in a Bullhead (Cottus gobio) Population from a High-Mountain Lake (Carnic Alps): Adaptation to an Extreme Ecosystem? Water 2019, 11, 2570. [CrossRef] 7. Starkweather, P.L. Zooplankton community structure of high elevation lakes: Biogeographic and predator-prey interactions. Int. Ver. Theor. Angew. Limnol. Verh. 1990, 24, 513–517. [CrossRef] 8. Haeberli, W.; Schaub, Y.; Huggel, C. 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DiversityMultidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute

Published: Jun 26, 2020

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