Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 245–264

The environmental history of a mountain lake (Lago Paione Superiore, Central Alps, Italy) for the last c. 100 years: a multidisciplinary, palaeolimnological study


  • P. Guilizzoni
    • C.N.R. Istituto Italiano di Idrobiologia
  • A. Marchetto
    • C.N.R. Istituto Italiano di Idrobiologia
  • A. Lami
    • C.N.R. Istituto Italiano di Idrobiologia
  • N. G. Cameron
    • Environmental Change Research Unit, Dept. of GeographyUniversity College London
  • P. G. Appleby
    • Dept. of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical PhysicsUniversity of Liverpool
  • N. L. Rose
    • Environmental Change Research Unit, Dept. of GeographyUniversity College London
  • Ø. A. Schnell
    • Zoologisk InstituttUniversity of Bergen
  • C. A. Belis
    • Instituto de Limnologia ‘Dr R. A. Ringuelet’
  • A. Giorgis
    • C.N.R. Istituto Italiano di Idrobiologia
  • L. Guzzi

DOI: 10.1007/BF00213044

Cite this article as:
Guilizzoni, P., Marchetto, A., Lami, A. et al. J Paleolimnol (1996) 15: 245. doi:10.1007/BF00213044


A palaeoecological study of an oligotrophic alpine lake, Paione Superiore (Italy), provided a record of historical changes in water quality. Historical trends in lake acidification were reconstructed by means of calibration and regression equations from diatoms, chrysophycean scales and pigment ratios. The historical pH was inferred by using two different diatom calibration data sets, one specific to the alpine region. These pH trends, together with the record of sedimentary carbonaceous particles and chironomid remains, indicate a recent acidification of this low alkalinity lake.

Concentration of total organic matter, organic carbon, nitrogen, biogenic silica (BSiO2), chlorophyll derivatives (CD), fucoxanthin, diatom cell concentration and number of chironomid head capsules increased during the last 2–3 decades. When expressed as accumulation rates, most of these parameters tended to decrease from the past century to c. 1950, then all except P increased to the present day. A marked increase in sedimentary nitrogen may be related to atmospheric pollution and to the general increases in output of N in Europe. High C/N ratios indicate a prevailing allochthonous source of organic matter.

Finally, the increase in measured air temperature from the mid-1800's appeared to be related to lake water pH before industrialization: cold periods generally led to lower pH and vice-versa. The more recent phenomenon of anthropogenic acidification has apparently decoupled this climatic-water chemistry relationship.

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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996