This special issue demonstrates that aquatic ecosystems on the south-central Canadian Shield have changed in many ways over the last three decades. El Niño cycles have synchronized multilake dynamics in lake-water chemistry and in several components of the aquatic biota. Overlain on this cyclic regional pattern, phosphorus, sulphate, and calcium levels have all declined, whereas alkalinity has not yet risen in the most acid-sensitive study lakes, despite large reductions in SO2 emissions. Further, novel and unanticipated stressors have appeared, including nonindigenous predator introductions, Ca decline, salinity increase, and autumn spikes in metals following El Niño induced droughts. The resident biota are clearly responding not only to the familiar historical phosphorus and acid stressors, but also to the interactive effects of changes in multiple stressors in a warming environment. Lakes are best managed with an understanding of dominant limnological trends, their causes, and their responses to past management interventions. The research conducted at the Dorset Environmental Science Centre indicates "progress but no cigar" on acid rain, proof of climate variability as a direct and indirect regulator of south-central Shield ecosystems, and the emergence of novel stressors, the effects of which we cannot yet fully predict. © 2008 NRC.