Biological and geochemical changes in shallow lakes of the Hudson Bay Lowlands: a response to recent warming

  • Kristopher R. HadleyEmail author
  • Andrew M. Paterson
  • Kathleen M. Rühland
  • Hilary White
  • Brent B. Wolfe
  • Wendel Keller
  • John P. Smol
Original paper


The Hudson Bay Lowlands (HBL) region of the far north of Ontario (Canada) is expected to undergo considerable physical, chemical and biological change as a result of ongoing climatic change. Previous research in the region has shown marked limnological changes during the past ~ 20 years in relatively deep lakes that have been attributed to increased air temperatures and changes in sea ice phenology in Hudson Bay since the mid-1990s. Here, we present diatom assemblage, primary production and geochemical data from lake sediments documenting recent limnological change in two shallow sub-arctic lakes in the Sutton River region of the HBL. Both lakes recorded increased whole-lake production and diatom diversity changes that are consistent with a longer ice-free period and growing season. Changes in diatom composition at Wolfgang Lake were characterized by a response amongst benthic/periphytic taxa whereas a modest increase in planktonic diatoms was observed at Sam Lake. Geochemical changes (δ15N, C/N and %N) were temporally coherent with diatom assemblage changes, but showed different responses in the two study lakes. Thus, although the biological and geochemical changes were consistent with recent warming, differences in the nature and timing of these shifts illustrate the heterogeneous nature of shallow lakes, and suggest that local (catchment-specific) factors are important determinants of the trajectory of limnological change in these sensitive systems.


Diatoms Climate change Stable isotopes Chlorophyll a Paleolimnology Lake sediments 



This research was supported by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change through the Climate Change and Multiple Stressor Aquatic Research Program at Laurentian University, as well as the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. We would also like to thank Albert and Gilbert Chookomolin for their assistance with field surveys, and Hearst Air for their professional service and safe access to these remote lakes.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristopher R. Hadley
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Andrew M. Paterson
    • 1
  • Kathleen M. Rühland
    • 2
  • Hilary White
    • 3
  • Brent B. Wolfe
    • 3
  • Wendel Keller
    • 4
  • John P. Smol
    • 2
  1. 1.Dorset Environmental Science Centre, Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate ChangeDorsetCanada
  2. 2.Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Laboratory (PEARL), Department of BiologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada
  4. 4.Cooperative Freshwater Ecology Unit, Vale Living with Lakes CentreLaurentian UniversitySudburyCanada

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