Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 183–197 | Cite as

Hydrological change in the central interior of British Columbia, Canada: diatom and pollen evidence of millennial-to-centennial scale change over the Holocene

  • Jennifer M. Galloway
  • Adam M. Lenny
  • Brian F. Cumming
Original paper


Diatom-based inferences of post-glacial hydrological change from a sedimentary record from Felker Lake, British Columbia, show millennial-scale pacing of climate over the past approximately 11670 calendar years with change at ca. 8140 cal. year BP, ca. 6840 cal. year BP, ca. 5700 cal. year BP, and ca. 2230 cal. year BP. Early postglacial diatom assemblages are dominated by fragilaroid taxa, suggesting that cool and moist climate conditions and relatively high lake levels prevailed at this time. Early Holocene warming near ca. 8140 cal. year BP promoted Cyclotella bodanica var. lemanica, a fall bloomer competitive in limnological conditions associated with warmer water and stratified conditions. Short-lived peaks of Stephanodiscus parvus/minutulus between ca. 6340 cal. year BP and ca. 5860 cal. year BP indicate periodic increases in nutrient availability and prolonged mixing likely associated with long cool and moist spring seasons. The diatom-inferred depth of Felker Lake increased during the mid-Holocene to reach a record high-stand at ca. 5860 cal. year BP. Large changes in hydrological variability and terrestrial vegetation at Felker Lake occurred after ca. 2230 cal. year BP when high-amplitude centennial-scale fluctuations in diatom-inferred lake depth and salinity are observed. Change is first documented in terrestrial vegetation at this time by a shift from open Pinus parklands to a landscape that periodically supported populations of Cupressaceae. Three record low-stand high-salinity events are reconstructed between ca. 1910 cal. year BP and ca. 1800 cal. year BP, ca. 1030 cal. year BP and ca. 690 cal. year BP, and ca. 250 cal. year BP and ca. 140 cal. year BP. The low lake-level episode of ca. 1030 cal. year BP–ca. 690 cal. year BP is coeval with the Medieval Warm Period (ca. 1000 cal. year BP–ca. 600 cal. year BP), a period of intense drought in western North America. Post-glacial hydrological change at Felker Lake is coherent with regional, hemispherical, and global paleoclimate events, suggesting that millennial-and centennial-scale shifts in water availability are a persistent feature of the climate of western North America.


Paleoecology Diatoms Pollen Holocene Climate change British Columbia 



We are grateful for field assistance from Jeremy Gallant and Mihaela Enache, and would like to thank Dr. P Roeder (Queen’s University) for identifying tephra layers in the Felker Lake sediment core. Funding for this research was provided by a grant from the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada awarded to BF Cumming. The comments and suggestions of Rod Smith and two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript. This manuscript represents Natural Resources Canada Earth Science Sector (Geological Survey of Canada) contribution number 20090370.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer M. Galloway
    • 1
    • 2
  • Adam M. Lenny
    • 1
  • Brian F. Cumming
    • 1
  1. 1.Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL), Department of Biology, Biosciences ComplexQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Geological Survey of Canada (Calgary)Natural Resources CanadaCalgaryCanada

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