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A 50-year sediment record of algal assemblage changes in Hanabanilla Reservoir, Cuba

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Hanabanilla Reservoir, south-central Cuba, is used for electric power generation, potable water supply and tourism. We examined stratigraphic shifts in algal assemblages that accumulated in the reservoir sediments from the time of construction in 1960 through 2012, and inferred the environmental drivers of such biological changes. Historical fluctuations in algal assemblages were driven by scouring of the reservoir bottom, changing water level, and input of organic matter and nitrogen to the water body. Stage records, in conjunction with algal counts, confirm the importance of the pennate/centric diatom ratio for reconstructing past water-level changes. Although nutrient and organic matter inputs to the reservoir also influenced algal abundance and community composition, our findings suggest that regulating reservoir hydrology could be an effective strategy for preventing future cyanobacterial blooms. Shifts in the relative abundances of algal taxa, and dominance of R strategists associated with extreme fluctuations in water level, showed the strong influence of hydrology as a determinant of primary producer assemblage structure.

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We thank the technicians and specialists of the Laboratory of Environmental Assays in the Centre of Environmental Studies of Cienfuegos (CEAC), the workers at Hanabanilla Reservoir, and the Institutes of Hydraulic Resources (INRH) of Villa Clara Province and Physical Planning (IPF) of Cienfuegos Province, Cuba. We also thank Mark Brenner and an anonymous reviewer for valuable comments on the manuscript, and Laura Castellanos (CEAC) for providing the site map. This study was financed by the Nuclear and Advanced Technologies Agency (AENTA) 200.2002 Project “Solutions to specific problems of integrated management of basins and coastal areas in Cuba, through isotopic and nuclear techniques: sea acidification, CO2 cycle and sequestration, toxic algal blooms, invasive species, environmental pollution, erosion-sedimentation-transport of nutrients and contaminants, eutrophication and water quality of reservoirs,” and the ARCAL CXXXIX (RLA7019/2014) Project “Developing indicators to determine the effect of pesticides, heavy metals and emerging contaminants on continental aquatic ecosystems important to agriculture and agroindustry” (FAO-IAEA).

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Labaut, Y., Macchi, P.A., Comas, A.A. et al. A 50-year sediment record of algal assemblage changes in Hanabanilla Reservoir, Cuba. J Paleolimnol 63, 235–250 (2020).

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  • Reservoir
  • Sediment
  • Dam
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Aulacoseira
  • Microcystis