Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 50, Issue 2, pp 207–229 | Cite as

Diatom–environment relationships and a transfer function for conductivity in lakes of the Badain Jaran Desert, Inner Mongolia, China

  • Patrick Rioual
  • Yanbin Lu
  • Handong Yang
  • Louis Scuderi
  • Guoqiang Chu
  • Jonathan Holmes
  • Bingqi Zhu
  • Xiaoping Yang
Original Paper


We describe a dataset of 26 modern diatom samples and associated environmental variables from the Badain Jaran Desert, northwest China. The influence of electrical conductivity (EC) and other variables on diatom distribution was explored using multivariate analyses and generalized additive modeling of species response curves. A transfer function was derived for EC, the variable with the largest unique effect on diatom variance, as shown by partial canonical correspondence analysis. Weighted-averaging partial least squares regression and calibration provided the best model, with a high coefficient of determination (\( {\text{r}}_{\text{boot}}^{2} \) = 0.91) and low prediction error (RMSEPboot = 0.136 log10 μS cm−1). To assess its potential for palaeosalinity and palaeoclimate reconstructions, the EC transfer function was applied to fossil diatom assemblages from 210Pb-dated short sediment cores collected from two subsaline lakes of the Badain Jaran Desert. The diatom-inferred (DI) EC reconstructions were compared with meteorological data for the past 50 years and with remote sensing data for the period AD 1990–2012. Changes in DI–EC were small and their relationship with climate was weak. Moreover, remote sensing data indicate that the surface areas and water depths of these lakes did not change, which suggests that water loss by evaporation is compensated by groundwater inflow. These results suggest that the response of these lakes to climate change is mediated by non-climatic factors such as the hydrogeological setting, which control recharge from groundwater, and may be non-linear and non-stationary.


Diatoms Transfer function Electrical conductivity Saline lakes Badain Jaran Desert China 



This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Number: 40930105) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant Number: kzcx2-yw-119). We thank Oliver Heiri, Mark Brenner and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10933_2013_9715_MOESM1_ESM.doc (278 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 278 kb)
10933_2013_9715_MOESM2_ESM.doc (2.4 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 2503 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Rioual
    • 1
  • Yanbin Lu
    • 1
  • Handong Yang
    • 2
  • Louis Scuderi
    • 3
  • Guoqiang Chu
    • 1
  • Jonathan Holmes
    • 2
  • Bingqi Zhu
    • 4
  • Xiaoping Yang
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Cenozoic Geology and Environment, Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Environmental Change Research CentreUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesUniversity of New MexicoAlbuquerqueUSA
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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