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Elsevier, Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, (321-322), p. 1-15

DOI: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2012.01.011



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Using paleolimnology to track Holocene climate fluctuations and aquatic ontogeny in poorly buffered High Arctic lakes

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Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


Fossil diatom assemblages, and spectrally-inferred dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and sedimentary chlorophyll-a (SedChla) were analysed on lake sediment cores from two poorly buffered lakes on Pim Island (High Arctic Canada) to assess their responses to Holocene climate changes and to document lake ontogeny. Following deglaciation, diatom assemblages were dominated by small benthic Fragilaria sensu lato taxa. During the mid-Holocene, there was an abrupt shift to more circumneutral and slightly acidophilous taxa dominated by Achnanthes and Navicula taxa. In the most recent sediments, we recorded an increase in the planktonic taxon Cyclotella radiosa. This shift of the last century is the most ecologically unique in the Holocene record and is indicative of longer ice-free summers consistent with modern climate warming. Inferred DOC and SedChla track some of the main Holocene climatic trends documented in the region, including the Holocene Thermal Maximum and Neoglacial period; however, changes in lakewater DOC did not likely drive any of the recorded shifts in diatom assemblages. Compared to nearby well-buffered sites, our poorly buffered lakes recorded a more dynamic diatom response to Holocene environmental change. The decreasing trend in diatom-inferred pH is likely due to changes in the acid neutralizing capacity (ANC) driven by the release of alkalinizing base cations from the easily weathered glacial deposits in the early Holocene and later by climate-driven pH dynamics and within-lake dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) dynamics. The diatom com-munity composition in our study lakes is different and undergoes greater changes than in nearby well-buffered lakes suggesting that softwater lakes in the high Arctic may respond most sensitively to climate and other environmental stressors.