Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 259–279 | Cite as

Geochemical evidence for the variation of historical seabird population on Dongdao Island of the South China Sea

  • X. D. Liu
  • S. P. Zhao
  • L. G. Sun
  • H. H. Luo
  • X. B. Yin
  • Z. Q. Xie
  • Y. H. Wang
  • K. X. Liu
  • X. H. Wu
  • X. F. Ding
  • D. P. Fu
Original Paper


From a rare freshwater lake characteristic of alkalescence, named “Cattle Pond”, on the Dongdao Island of South China Sea (16°39′–16°41′ N, 112°43′–112°45′ E), we collected two undisturbed sediment cores that contain seabird droppings. In this paper, we determined the concentration-versus-depth profiles of the geochemical elements in the ornithogenic sediment layers of the two cores, analyzed these profiles by various statistical methods, and studied their geochemical characteristics. The concentration profiles of As, Cd, Cu, Se, Zn, P and S are significantly correlated with each other and with loss on ignition (LOI) at 550°C, the measure for the abundance of organic matter. Similar geochemical characteristics, however, were not observed in the upper sediment layer of the Cattle Pond notably affected by cattle excrements, as well as in the bottom sediment layer compositionally dominated by coral sand and gravel. This shows that these “bio-elements” are mainly derived from seabird feces and their geochemical composition is an important geochemical characteristic of the lacustrine ornithogenic sediments. By Q-mode factor analysis (QFA) on the concentration profiles of these bio-elements, we reconstructed the historical seabird population on Dongdao Island between 1350 and 350 year B.P., and observed significant fluctuations in the calculated population. The fluctuations seem to be related to the change of sea surface temperature (SST) in the Southern China Sea. This study provides new paleoenvironmental information of past seabird population changes in low latitude areas using an indirect geochemical method.


Dongdao Island Lacustrine sediments Sediment sequence affected by seabird feces Seabird population Elemental geochemistry SST South China Sea 


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This research was supported by grants from the key project of National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 40231002 and 40476001) and the Projects of the Knowledge Innovation of CAS (No. KZCX3-SW-151). We are grateful to P. R. China Military for authorizing us to perform the research project in Xi-Sha atoll and to P. R. China troops in Xi-Sha atoll for their assistance. We especially appreciate two anonymous reviewers for their critical reviews and careful corrections on this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • X. D. Liu
    • 1
  • S. P. Zhao
    • 1
  • L. G. Sun
    • 1
  • H. H. Luo
    • 1
  • X. B. Yin
    • 1
  • Z. Q. Xie
    • 1
  • Y. H. Wang
    • 2
  • K. X. Liu
    • 3
  • X. H. Wu
    • 4
  • X. F. Ding
    • 3
  • D. P. Fu
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Polar EnvironmentUniversity of Science and Technology of ChinaHefeiPR China
  2. 2.National Institutes of HealthMarylandUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Heavy Ion Physics, School of PhysicsPeking UniversityBeijingPR China
  4. 4.School of Archaeology and MuseologyPeking UniversityBeijingPR China

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