Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 58, Issue 2, pp 151–167 | Cite as

Late glacial and early Holocene hydroclimate variability in northwest Iran (Talesh Mountains) inferred from chironomid and pollen analysis

  • Cyril AubertEmail author
  • Elodie Brisset
  • Morteza Djamali
  • Arash Sharifi
  • Philippe Ponel
  • Belinda Gambin
  • Tayebeh Akbari Azirani
  • Frédéric Guibal
  • Hamid Lahijani
  • Abdolmajid Naderi Beni
  • Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu
  • Ali Pourmand
  • Valérie Andrieu-Ponel
  • Alain Thiéry
  • Emmanuel Gandouin
Original paper


We reconstructed the paleohydrologic and climatic history of the Lake Neor region, NW Iran, from the end of the late glacial to the middle Holocene (15,500–7500 cal yr BP). Subfossil chironomid and pollen assemblages in a sediment core from a peatland located south of Lake Neor enabled identification of four main hydrologic phases. The period 15,500–12,700 cal yr BP was characterized by a relatively dry climate with an open landscape, suggested by the abundance of Irano-Turanian steppe plants (e.g. Amaranthaceae, Artemisia and Cousinia). Dominance of several shallow-water and semi-terrestrial chironomid taxa (e.g. Pseudosmittia, Smittia/Parasmittia and Paraphaenocladius/Parametriocnemus) during this period is indicative of lower water tables in the wetland. Between 12,700 and 11,300 cal yr BP, chironomid taxa indicate higher wetland water tables, as suggested by the presence of Zavrelia, Chironomus anthracinus/plumosus-type and Micropsectra, which are inhabitants of open-water, lacustrine areas. The open-steppe vegetation remained dominant in the watershed during this time. Increasing wetland moisture could be explained by: (1) cool summers that reduced the evaporation rate; and/or (2) a decrease in duration of the summer dry season. The period 11,300–8700 cal yr BP was characterized by lower wetland moisture, contemporaneous with a delay in the expansion of deciduous forest, suggesting persistent dry climate conditions throughout the beginning of the Holocene, which may have been related to the intensified seasonality of precipitation. Around 8700 cal yr BP, higher wetland water levels, inferred from chironomids, occurred simultaneously with the onset of regional deciduous forest expansion, probably caused by a shortening of the summer dry period. We concluded that chironomids are appropriate paleoecological proxies to investigate global and local hydrologic variability in the Middle East.


Climate change Seasonality Paleohydrology Irano-Touranian steppe Lake Neor Middle East 



This project was supported by the Franco-German ANR/DFG project entitled “PALEO-PERSEPOLIS” (ANR-14-CE35-0026-01) and the European ERC project entitled “PERSIA.” The authors thank the former director of the Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Sciences, Dr Vahid Chegini for his support of our paleoenvironmental studies in NW Iran. Thanks are also due to SJ Brooks, S Engels and an anonymous reviewer for their help, which improved this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cyril Aubert
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elodie Brisset
    • 1
  • Morteza Djamali
    • 1
    • 2
  • Arash Sharifi
    • 3
  • Philippe Ponel
    • 1
  • Belinda Gambin
    • 1
    • 4
  • Tayebeh Akbari Azirani
    • 5
  • Frédéric Guibal
    • 1
  • Hamid Lahijani
    • 2
  • Abdolmajid Naderi Beni
    • 2
  • Jacques-Louis de Beaulieu
    • 1
  • Ali Pourmand
    • 3
  • Valérie Andrieu-Ponel
    • 1
  • Alain Thiéry
    • 1
  • Emmanuel Gandouin
    • 1
  1. 1.Aix-Marseille Univ, Avignon Université, CNRS, IRD, IMBE, Technopôle Arbois MéditerranéeAix-En-Provence Cedex 04France
  2. 2.INIOAS: Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric SciencesTehranIran
  3. 3.Department of Marine Geosciences, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, RSMAS/MGGUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Earth SystemsUniversity of MaltaMsidaMalta
  5. 5.Department of GeographyShahid Beheshti UniversityTehranIran

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