Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 407–430 | Cite as

A 40,000-year record of environmental change from ancient Lake Ohrid (Albania and Macedonia)

  • Bernd Wagner
  • André F. Lotter
  • Norbert Nowaczyk
  • Jane M. Reed
  • Antje Schwalb
  • Roberto Sulpizio
  • Verushka Valsecchi
  • Martin Wessels
  • Giovanni Zanchetta
Original Paper


Lake Ohrid is considered to be of Pliocene origin and is the oldest extant lake in Europe. A 1,075-cm-long sediment core was recovered from the southeastern part of the lake, from a water depth of 105 m. The core was investigated using geophysical, granulometric, biogeochemical, diatom, ostracod, and pollen analyses. Tephrochronology and AMS radiocarbon dating of plant macrofossils reveals that the sediment sequence spans the past ca. 39,500 years and features a hiatus between ca. 14,600 and 9,400 cal. year BP. The Pleistocene sequence indicates relatively stable and cold conditions, with steppe vegetation in the catchment, at least partial winter ice-cover of the lake, and oxygenated bottom waters at the coring site. The Holocene sequence indicates that the catchment vegetation had changed to forest dominated by pine and summer-green oak. Several of the proxies suggest the impact of abrupt climate oscillations such as the 8.2 or 4.0 ka event. The observed changes, however, cannot be related clearly to a change in temperature or humidity. Human impact started about 5,000 cal. year BP and increased significantly during the past 2,400 years. Water column mixing conditions, inflow from subaquatic springs, and human impact are the most important parameters influencing internal lake processes, notably affecting the composition and characteristics of the sediments.


Lake Ohrid Mediterranean Pleistocene Holocene Palaeolimnology 



The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (grant WA2109/1). Thanks are also due to the British Council and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for travel grants to J.M.R. and A.S. within the Project Based Personnel Exchange Programme. We would like to thank Goce Kostoski, Sasho Trajanoski, Zoran Spirkovski, Zoran Brdaroski, Mitat Sanxhaku and Emirjeta Adhami for enormous logistic support during the field campaign. Trajan Petkovski and Burkhard Scharf are thanked for help with ostracod taxonomy. The coring location was selected based on a shallow seismic survey by Gerhard Daut from University of Jena, Germany. Hendrik Vogel contributed with numerous fruitful discussions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernd Wagner
    • 1
  • André F. Lotter
    • 2
  • Norbert Nowaczyk
    • 3
  • Jane M. Reed
    • 4
  • Antje Schwalb
    • 5
  • Roberto Sulpizio
    • 6
  • Verushka Valsecchi
    • 2
  • Martin Wessels
    • 7
  • Giovanni Zanchetta
    • 8
  1. 1.Institut für Geologie und MineralogieKölnGermany
  2. 2.Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Institute of Environmental BiologyUniversiteit UtrechtUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Geoforschungszentrum PotsdamPotsdamGermany
  4. 4.Department of GeographyUniversity of HullHullUK
  5. 5.Institut für UmweltgeologieTU BraunschweigBraunschweigGermany
  6. 6.CIRISIVU, c/o Dipartimento GeomineralogicoBariItaly
  7. 7.Institut für Seenforschung, LUBWLangenargenGermany
  8. 8.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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