Appearing and disappearing lakes and their impacts on biodiversity
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AppearingThermokarst lakes and ponds, formed by the thawing of permafrost, are the most abundant and productive aquatic ecosystems in the Arctic. They are areas of high biodiversity with abundant microbes, benthic communities, aquatic plants, plankton, and birds. While the disappearance and appearance of thermokarst lakes is a relatively common occurrence, there are concerns about their future in the face of climate warming. There has been a net decrease in the number of thermokarst lakes over the past fifty years in the western Canadian Arctic, Siberia, and Alaska. Trends in other Arctic regions are unknown. The appearance and disappearance of thermokarst lakes is projected to be more common with climate change and will likely lead to more aquatic habitat becoming available in higher latitudes over time. The effects of these habitat shifts on local aquatic populations, migratory species, and vegetation is the subject of further investigation.