Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 60, Issue 4, pp 525–541 | Cite as

Within versus between-lake variability of sedimentary diatoms: the role of sampling effort in capturing assemblage composition in environmentally heterogeneous shallow lakes

  • Gabriela S. Hassan
Original paper


The effect of within-lake diatom assemblages variability on sample representativity and its subsequent impact on between-lake comparisons were addressed in three environmentally heterogeneous shallow lakes from the Argentinean Pampas. Surface sediment samples were collected from the open waters and the highly vegetated littoral areas on a seasonal basis and analyzed for diatom assemblages composition. Within-lake variability was assessed by comparing the Bray Curtis distances between original data and the Monte Carlo-simulated average assemblages composition through non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS). Diatom assemblages showed a high variability in composition, evidencing large dispersions of samples around the centroid in NMDS plots. Permutational multivariate analysis of variance tests signaled significant differences in average composition between the three lakes, related mainly to their differences in conductivity and depth. Representativity of original samples was assessed through principal coordinates analyses ordinations of the three lakes, being samples lying in the overlapping areas of the plot classified as poor representatives of between-lake differences. Several samples, both from littoral and open waters, were classified as poor representatives through this method. Simulation allowed us to evaluate the effect of sample replication on improving between-lake comparisons, and showed that collecting two littoral and two open-water samples allowed us to faithfully capture differences in average composition among the three lakes. Hence, the results suggest that using a single sample to estimate diatom assemblages composition in these lakes should be avoided, as it fails to capture between-lake differences, leading to biases in compositional comparisons among lakes and regions. Consequently, including multiple samples from each lake when constructing calibration sets would be the best option to obtain reliable paleoenvironmental reconstructions from single sediment cores in these environmentally heterogeneous shallow lakes.


Diatoms Within-lake variability Between-lake variability Representativeness Surface sediment samples Pampas 



Financial support for this study was provided by Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (PICT 2013-2727). I am indebted to Pedro Urrutia, Héctor Sanabria and Santiago González Aguilar for permission to sample on the lakes. C.G. De Francesco made helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. I thank Dr. T.J. Whitmore, Dr. S. Juggins, Dr. S. Adler and one anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments which improved substantially the manuscript. G. Hassan is a member of the Scientific Research Career of the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 1217 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 50 kb)


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas y Costeras (IIMyC), Anexo Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y NaturalesCONICET-Universidad Nacional de Mar del PlataMar del PlataArgentina

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