Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 251–275 | Cite as

Multi-indicator conductivity transfer functions for Quaternary palaeoclimate reconstruction

  • Jane M. ReedEmail author
  • Francesc Mesquita-Joanes
  • Huw I. Griffiths
Original paper


Diatoms (Bacillariophyceae; single-celled algae) and ostracods (Ostracoda; shelled microcrustacea) are known for their sensitivity to salinity. In palaeolimnology, the potential has yet to be tested for quantifying past salinity, lake level, and by inference, climate change, by application of multiple-indicator transfer functions. We used weighted averaging techniques to derive diatom (n = 91; r 2  = 0.92) and ostracod (n = 53; r 2  = 0.83) conductivity transfer functions from modern diatom, ostracod and water chemistry data collected in lakes of central, western and northern Turkey. Diatoms were better represented across the full gradient than ostracods, at intermediate levels of conductivity in particular, but both transfer functions were statistically robust. Because transfer functions are not infallible, we further tested the strength and simplicity of salinity response and the potential for identifying characteristic associations of diatom and ostracod taxa in different parts of the salinity gradient, to improve palaeoclimate reconstruction. We identified a subset of 51 samples that contained both diatoms and ostracods, collected at the same time from the same habitat. We used Two-Way Indicator Species Analysis of a combined diatom-ostracod data set, transformed to achieve numerical equivalence, to explore distributions in more detail. A clear ecological threshold was apparent at ~3 g l−1 salinity, rather than at 5 g l−1, the boundary used by some workers, equating to the oligosaline-mesosaline boundary. Other salinity boundaries were poorly defined, indicating lack of a simple, well-defined salinity response. We did, however, define characteristic associations of taxa, to facilitate the distinction to be drawn between a hydrologically open, fresh lake and an oligosaline lake, in palaeoenvironmental reconstruction. Over the rest of the salinity gradient, we highlighted the potential for the multi-proxy approach to strengthen ostracod-based reconstruction in particular, to overcome the problem of broad apparent tolerance ranges in common halophilic taxa such as Limnocythere inopinata, which often dominate in low-diversity fossil assemblages. The combination of multi-proxy quantitative reconstruction, complemented by qualitative understanding of ecological responses generated by the analysis, remains a powerful tool in Quaternary palaeoclimate research.


Transfer functions Diatoms Ostracoda Conductivity Saline lakes Turkey 



The study was funded by a Leverhulme Special Research Fellowship to JMR, supported by Royal Society, British Council and British Institute of Archaeology, Ankara field grants. We are grateful to Phil Barker, Bob Knight and Jonathan Holmes for access to laboratory equipment. We thank Neil Roberts for encouraging JMR to carry out pilot studies as a Leverhulme and NERC research associate. Neil Roberts, Warren Eastwood, Sabri and Claire Kilinç, Selçuk and Songül Altınsaçlı helped with fieldwork. We thank Jonathan Garner for map production and Stuart McLelland for data transformation. We thank Finn Viehberg, Mark Brenner, Steffen Mischke and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments on the manuscript. We dedicate this to the memory of Huw Griffiths.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane M. Reed
    • 1
    Email author
  • Francesc Mesquita-Joanes
    • 2
  • Huw I. Griffiths
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of HullHullUK
  2. 2.Dep. Microbiologia i Ecologia, Fac. BiologiaUniv. ValènciaBurjassotSpain
  3. 3.HullUK

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