, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 451-460

The use of ultra-sound in the preparation of carbonate and clay sediments for chironomid analysis

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Abstract

Initial investigations of Holocene carbonate sediment from Hawes Water, Northwest England, yielded lower numbers of chironomid head capsules than anticipated. Standard techniques used to prepare sediment for chironomid analysis were ineffective in breaking up the coarse crystalline sediment structure sufficiently. This led to large amounts of sediment being retained and increased sample processing times. The low yield of head capsules also meant that more sediment was needed to produce adequate numbers of head capsules for analysis. The use of ultra-sound as part of the sediment processing was investigated. This technique reduced the amount of sediment left for sorting and yielded significantly more head capsules which were of equivalent structural condition and cleaner than those produced by conventional methods. The technique was extended to clay samples where similar results were obtained although shorter treatment times are recommended. The proportion of Tanytarsini and Tanypodinae heads increased significantly in carbonate and clay samples, respectively; both sediment types showed a significant decline in the proportion of Chironomini. The results indicate that ultra-sonic preparation of samples will yield a more accurate representation of chironomid assemblages in sediments leading to greater sensitivity and reliability in analysing past environmental conditions.