Different aquatic animals have different tolerance to pH changes in the water they live in. For example, a wood frog will die if the pH of the water falls below 4 while a clam will die if the pH...

Different aquatic animals have different tolerance to pH changes in the water they live in. 

For example, a wood frog will die if the pH of the water falls below 4 while a clam will die if the pH of the water falls below 6. So can anyone please explain to me how these animals can act as natural indicators for the acidity of water in lakes and rivers?

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cgrant2 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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pH levels has to with how basic or how acid a particular substance is. Based on the pH, a living thing can either thrive or die in a particular environment. Acids are rich with protons or H+ ions that can form compounds are toxic to living thing (ie. ammonium). Also acidic environments can denature essential proteins as well. Acidic environments can also deplete food sources and destroy niches. This is why scientists are concerned about the effects of acid rain on ecosystems. Acidity is one the factors that must be controlled for the sake of the ecosystems. 

Animals can act as indicators because there is a pH threshold in which certain animals can live. If the pH in a certain area are dying off at pH 4, the water is too acid for this certain species of fish. If we already know at what pH is considered toxic to these fish, we can determine the pH 4 of the water when populations start to decrease. Water testing can determine the pH of water as well. 

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