, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 231-247

Late Holocene environmental changes inferred from diatoms in a lake on the western Taimyr Peninsula, northern Russia

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Abstract

Changes in the diatom assemblages preserved in a sediment core taken from a small lake located north of arctic treeline on the western Taimyr Peninsula, Russia, were examined in order to investigate late Holocene (i.e., ca 5000 cal yr BP to present) climatic and environmental changes within the region. Early diatom assemblages were dominated by benthic Fragilaria taxa and indicate a transitional phase in the lake history, most likely reflecting lake development and environmental change associated with treeline retreat to the south of the study site. Concurrent with pollen and macrofossil evidence of a vegetation shift to shrub tundra in the catchment basin at ca 4200 cal yr BP, an increase in cold-water taxa, followed by little change in diatom assemblages until ca 2800 cal yr BP, suggests that conditions were relatively cool and stable at this time. The last ∼2000 years of the Middendorf Lake record have been marked by fluctuating limnological conditions, characterized by striking successional shifts between Fragilaria pinnata and Aulacoseira distans var. humilis. Recent conditions in Middendorf Lake indicate an increase in diatom taxa previously rare in the record, possibly associated with twentieth-century climatic warming. The Middendorf Lake record indicates that significant limnological change may occur in the absence of catchment vegetation shifts, suggesting late-Holocene decoupling of aquatic and terrestrial responses to climatic and hydrological change. Our study results represent one of the few paleoecological records currently available from northern Russia, and highlight the need for further development of calibration data sets from this region.