Diatoms as indicators of Holocene climate and environmental change in northern Sweden

by Bigler, Christian

Abstract (Summary)
The objective of the thesis was to explore the potential of diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) as indicators of Holocene climate and environmental change in northern Sweden (Abisko region, 68°21'N, 18°49'E). A modern surface-sediment calibration set including 100 lakes was developed and lake-water pH, sedimentary organic content (assessed by loss-on-ignition) and temperature were identified as most powerful environmental variables explaining the variance within the diatom assemblages. Transfer functions based on unimodal species response models (WA-PLS) were developed for lake-water pH and mean July air temperature (July T), yielding coefficients of determination of 0.77 and 0.70, and prediction errors based on leave-one-out cross-validation of 0.19 pH units and 0.96 °C for lake-water pH and July T, respectively. The transfer functions were validated with monitoring data covering two open-water seasons (lake-water pH) and meteorological records covering the 20th century (July T). The good agreement between diatom-based inferences and measured monitoring data confirmed the prediction ability of the developed transfer functions. Analysing a Holocene sediment core from a lake nearby Abisko (Vuoskkujávri), diatoms infer a linearly decreasing July T trend (1.5 °C) since 6,000 cal. BP, which compares well with inferences based on chironomids and pollen from the same sediment core. The lake-water pH inference shows a pattern of moderate natural acidification (c. 0.5 pH units) since the early Holocene, reaching present-day pH values at c. 5,000 cal. BP. By fitting fossil diatom samples to the modern calibration set by means of residual distance assessment within canonical correspondence analysis (CCA), the early Holocene (between 10,600 and 6,000 cal. BP) was identified as a problematic time-period for diatom-based inferences and, consequently, reconstructions during this period are tentative. Pollen-based inferences also show 'poor' fit between 10,600 and 7,500 cal. BP and chironomids probably provide the most reliable July T reconstruction at Vuoskkujávri, with 'poor' fit only during the initial part of the Holocene (between 10,600 and 10,250 cal. BP). Possible factors confounding diatom-based July T inferences were investigated. Using detrended CCA (DCCA), Holocene sediment sequences from five lakes indicate that during the early Holocene, mainly physical factors such as high minerogenic erosion rates, high temperature and low light availability may have regulated diatom assemblages, favouring Fragilaria species. In all five lakes, diatom assemblages developed in a directional manner, but timing and scale of development differed substantially between lakes. The differences are attributed primarily to the geological properties of the lake catchments (with strong effects on lake-water pH), but other factors such as climatic change, vegetation, hydrologic setting and in-lake processes appear to regulate diatom communities in each lake differently. The influence of long-term natural acidification on diatom assemblages progressively declined during the Holocene with corresponding increase of the influence of climatic factors.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:NATURAL SCIENCES; Earth sciences; Exogenous earth sciences; Physical geography; Physical geography and sedimentology; diatoms; Holocene; paleolimnology; climate change; lake sediments; transfer functions; quantitative environmental reconstructions; northern Sweden; Abisko; Naturgeografi och sedimentologi; Physical Geography; naturgeografi


Date of Publication:01/01/2001

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