Vertical stratification of testate amoebae in the Elatia Mires, northern Greece: palaeoecological evidence for a wetland response to recent climatic change, or autogenic processes?
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The Elatia Mires of northern Greece are unique ecosystems of high conservation value. The mires are climatically marginal and may be sensitive to changing hydroclimate, while northern Greece has experienced a significant increase in aridity since the late twentieth century. To investigate the impact of recent climatic change on the hydrology of the mires, the palaeoecological record was investigated from three near-surface monoliths extracted from two sites. Testate amoebae were analysed as sensitive indicators of hydrology. Results were interpreted using transfer function models to provide quantitative reconstructions of changing water table depth and pH. AMS radiocarbon dates and 210Pb suggest the peats were deposited within the last c. 50 years, but do not allow a secure chronology to be established. Results from all three profiles show a distinct shift towards a more xerophilic community particularly noted by increases in Euglypha species. Transfer function results infer a distinct lowering of water tables in this period. A hydrological response to recent climate change is a tenable hypothesis to explain this change; however other possible explanations include selective test decay, vertical zonation of living amoebae, ombrotrophication and local hydrological change. It is suggested that a peatland response to climatic change is the most probable hypothesis, showing the sensitivity of marginal peatlands to recent climatic change.
KeywordsMires Peatlands Climate change Testate amoebae Palaeohydrology
This study was primarily funded by a BSA MacMillan-Rodewald fellowship to RJP. Radiocarbon dates were funded by grants from the Richard Bradford McConnell Fund and a Gladstone Memorial Prize. Thanks to Kimon Christanis and Stavros Kalaitzidis (University of Patras) for discussion of the Elatia Mires, to Edward Mitchell (Lausanne) for discussion of testate amoebae ecology and taxonomy, and to two anonymous reviewers for comments on a previous draft. The map was prepared by Edward Mitchell. This work was carried out by permission of the Greek Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration (IGME) and the Forest Service of the Prefecture of Drama.
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