, Volume 824, Issue 1, pp 291–321 | Cite as

Large and deep perialpine lakes: a paleolimnological perspective for the advance of ecosystem science

  • Monica TolottiEmail author
  • Nathalie Dubois
  • Manuela Milan
  • Marie-Elodie Perga
  • Dietmar Straile
  • Andrea Lami


The present paper aims at reviewing general knowledge of large European perialpine lakes as provided by sediment studies, and at outlining the contribution, from several lines of evidence, of modern paleolimnology in both interpreting past lake ecological evolution and forecasting lake responses to future human impacts. A literature survey mainly based on papers published in international journals indexed on ISI-Wos and Scopus from 1975 to April 2017 has been conducted on the 20 perialpine lakes with zmax ≥ 100 m and lake area ≥ 10 km2, and on 4 shallower perialpine lakes representing hotspots of extensive neo- and paleo-limnological research. By pinpointing temporal and spatial differences in paleolimnological studies conducted in the Alpine countries, the review identifies knowledge gaps in the perialpine area, and shows how sediment-based reconstructions represent a powerful tool, in mutual support with limnological surveys, to help predicting future scenarios through the “past-forward” principle, which consists in reconstructing past lake responses to conditions comparable to those to come. The most recent methodological developments of sediment studies show the potential to cope with the increasing ecosystem variability induced by climate change, and to produce innovative and crucial information for tuning future management and sustainable use of Alpine waters.


Perialpine lakes Lake sediments Human impact Eutrophication Paleoclimate Global change 



The authors thank Martin Dokulil and Roland Schmidt for suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. A particular thanks goes to all the funded projects and initiatives, which made possible the collection of the information shared in this review paper, and which are acknowledged in the references cited.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sustainable Agro-ecosystems and Bioresources, Research and Innovation Centre (CRI)Fondazione Edmund Mach (FEM)S. Michele all’AdigeItaly
  2. 2.Geological Institute, Department of Earth SciencesETH ZürichZürichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Surface Waters Research and ManagementEawagDübendorfSwitzerland
  4. 4.Limnological InstituteUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany
  5. 5.Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, GeopolisUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  6. 6.CARRTELINRA-University Savoie-Mont BlancThonon-les-bains CedexFrance
  7. 7.Istituto per lo Studio degli Ecosistemi, ISE-CNRVerbaniaItaly

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