The WHAM-FTOX model quantifies the combined toxic effects of protons and metal cations towards aquatic organisms through the toxicity function (FTOX), a linear combination of the products of organism-bound cation and a toxic potency coefficient for each cation. We describe the application of the model to predict an observable ecological field variable, species richness of pelagic lake crustacean zooplankton, studied with respect to either acidification or the impacts of metals from smelters. The fitted results give toxic potencies increasing in the order H+ <Al <Cu <Zn <Ni. In general, observed species richness is lower than predicted, but in some instances agreement is close, and is rarely higher than predictions. The model predicts recovery in agreement with observations for three regions, namely Sudbury (Canada), Bohemian Forest (Czech Republic) and a subset of lakes across Norway, but fails to predict observed recovery from acidification in Adirondack lakes (USA). © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.