Science China Earth Sciences

, Volume 57, Issue 10, pp 2512–2521 | Cite as

Stratigraphy and otolith microchemistry of the naked carp Gymnocypris przewalskii (Kessler) and their indication for water level of Lake Qinghai during the Ming Dynasty of China

  • YuJiao Wang
  • ZhangDong JinEmail author
  • Ling Zhou
  • FuChun LiEmail author
  • Fei Zhang
  • LiuMei Chen
  • XinNing Qiu
  • RuGui Qi
Research Paper


Otoliths are biogenic carbonate minerals in the inner ear of teleost fish, whose compositions can record the physical and chemical conditions of the ambient water environment inhabited by individual fish. In this research, the fishbones and otoliths of naked carp sampled near the Bird Island, offshore Lake Qinghai, were dated and analyzed for mineralogy and microchemical compositions. Comparing the microchemical compositions of ancient otoliths with those of modern otoliths, we conclude that the ancient naked carps inhabited a relict lake formed when the lake shrank from a high lake level, by combining with the AMS-14C ages of fishbones and otoliths, the stratigraphy and surrounding topography of the sample site. AMS-14C dating results of ancient fishbones and otoliths show that these naked carps lived from 680 to 300 years ago, i.e. during the Ming Dynasty of China. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) patterns demonstrate that the ancient lapillus is composed of pure aragonite, identical to modern one, indicating that the mineral of lapillus didn’t change after a long time burial and that the ancient lapillus is suitable for comparative analysis thereafter. Microchemical results show that both ratios of Mg/Ca ((70.12±18.50)×10−5) and δ 18O ((1.76±1.03)‰) of ancient lapilli are significantly higher than those of modern lapilli (average Mg/Ca=(3.11±0.41)× 10−5 and δ 18O=(−4.82±0.96)‰). This reflects that the relict water body in which the ancient naked carp lived during the Ming Dynasty was characterized by higher Mg/Ca and δ 18O ratios than modern Lake Qinghai, resulting from strong evaporation after being isolated from the main lake, similar to today’s Lake Gahai. Based upon the stratigraphy and altitude of naked carp remains, it can be inferred that the altitude of lake level of Lake Qinghai reached at least 3202 m with a lake area of 4480 km2 during the Ming Dynasty, approximately ∼5% larger than it is today.


Lake Qinghai naked carp fishbone lapillus oxygen isotope Mg/Ca lake level 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. An Z S, Colman S M, Zhou W J, et al. 2012. Interplay between the Westerlies and Asian monsoon recorded in Lake Qinghai sediments since 32 ka. Sci Rep, 2: 619, doi: 10.1038/srep 00619Google Scholar
  2. Andrus C F, Crowe D E, Sandweiss D H, et al. 2002. Otolith δ 18O record of mid-Holocene sea surface temperatures in Peru. Science, 295: 1508–1511CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Breard S Q, Stringer G L. 1999. Integrated paleoecology and marine vertebrate fauna of the Stone City Formation (Middle Eocene), Brazos River section, Texas. Trans Gulf Coast Assoc Geol Soc, 49: 132–143Google Scholar
  4. Campana S E. 1999. Chemistry and composition of fish otoliths pathways, mechanisms and applications. Mar Ecol Prog Ser, 188: 263–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chen F H, Chen J H, Holmes J A, et al. 2010. Moisture changes over the last millennium in the Arid Central Asia: A review, synthesis and comparison with monsoon region. Quat Sci Rev, 29: 1055–1068CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Elsdon T S, Gillanders B M. 2004. Fish otolith chemistry influenced by exposure to multiple environmental variables. J Exp Mar Biol Ecol, 313: 269–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Elsdon T S, Gillanders B M. 2003. Reconstructing migratory patterns of fish based on environmental influences on otolith chemistry. Rev Fish Biol Fisher, 13: 219–235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Feng S, Tang M C, Zhou L S. 2000. Level fluctuation in Qinghai Lake during the last 600 years (in Chinese with English abstract). J Lake Sci, 12: 205–210Google Scholar
  9. Gago-Duport L, Briones M J I, Rodríguez J B, et al. 2008. Amorphous calcium carbonate biomineralization in the earthworm’s calciferous gland: Pathways to the formation of crystalline phases. J Struct Biol, 162: 422–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gillanders B M, Munro A R. 2012. Hypersaline waters pose new challenges for reconstructing environmental histories of fish based on otolith chemistry. Limnol Oceanogr, 57: 1136–1148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Griffiths H I, Holmes J A. 2000. Non-marine ostracods and Quaternary palaeoenvironments. London: Quaternary Research Association. 1–187Google Scholar
  12. He D K, Chen Y F, Chen Y Y, et al. 2004. Molecular phylogeny of the specialized schizothoracine fishes (Teleostei: Cyprinidae), with their implications for the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Chin Sci Bull, 49: 39–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Henderson A C G, Holmes J A, Zhang J, et al. 2003. A carbon- and oxygen-isotope record of recent environmental change from Qinghai Lake, NE Tibetan Plateau. Chin Sci Bull, 48: 1463–1468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hu G, Jin Z D, Zhang F. 2008. Constraints of authigenic carbonates on trace elements (Sr, Mg) of lacustrine ostracod shells in paleoenvironment reconstruction and its mechanism. Sci China Ser D-Earth Sci, 51: 654–664CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Høie H, Otterlei E, Folkvord A. 2004. Temperature-dependent fractionation of stable oxygen isotopes in otoliths of juvenile cod (Gadus morhua L.). ICES J Mar Sci, 61: 243–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jamieson J C. 1953. Phase equilibrium in the system calcite-aragonite. J Chem Phys, 21: 1385–1390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Jin Z D, You C F, Wang Y, et al. 2010. Hydrological and solute budgets of Lake Qinghai, the largest lake on the Tibetan Plateau. Quat Int, 218: 151–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kerr L A, Andrews A H, Frantz B R, et al. 2004. Radiocarbon in otoliths of yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus): A reference time series for the coastal waters of southeast Alaska. Can J Fish Aquat Sci, 61: 443–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kim S T, O’Neil J R, Hillaire-Marcel C, et al. 2007. Oxygen isotope fractionation between synthetic aragonite and water: Influence of temperature and Mg2+ concentration. Geochim Cosmochim Acta, 71: 4704–4715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Li X Y, Xu H Y, Sun Y L, et al. 2007. Lake-level change and water balance analysis at Lake Qinghai, west China during recent decades. Water Resour Manage, 21: 1505–1516CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lister G S, Kelts K, Chen K Z, et al. 1991. Lake Qinghai, China: Closed-basin lake levels and the oxygen isotope record for ostracoda since the latest Pleistocene. Paleogeogr Paleoclimatol Paleoecol, 84: 141–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Liu W G, Li X Z, Zhang L, et al. 2009. Evaluation of oxygen isotopes in carbonate as an indicator of lake evolution in arid areas: The modern Qinghai Lake, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Chem Geol, 268: 126–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liu X J, Lai Z P. 2010. Lake level fluctuations in Qinghai Lake in the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau since the last interglaciation: A brief review and new data (in Chinese with English abstract). J Earth Environ, 1: 79–89CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Madsen D B, Ma H Z, Rhode D, et al. 2008. Age constraints on the late Quaternary evolution of Qinghai Lake, Tibetan Plateau. Quat Res, 69: 316–325CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Nolf D. 1985. Otolithi piscium. In: Schultze H P, ed. Handbook of Paleoichthyology. New York: Gustav Fischer Verlag. 10: 1–145Google Scholar
  26. Patterson W P, Smith G R, Lohmann K C. 1993. Continental paleothermometry and seasonality using the isotopic composition of aragonitic otoliths of freshwater fishes. In: Swart P K, et al. eds. Climate Change in Continental Isotopic Records. Washington D C: Geophysical Monograph Series. 191–202CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Reimer P J, Baillie M G L, Bard E, et al. 2009. IntCal09 and Marine09 radiocarbon age calibration curves, 0–50000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon, 51: 1111–1150Google Scholar
  28. Rhode D, Ma H Z, Madsen D B, et al. 2010. Paleoenvironmental and archaeological investigation at Qinghai Lake, western China: Geomorphic and chronometric evidence of lake level history. Quat Int, 218: 29–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wang S M, Li J R. 1991. Lacustrine sediments-An indicator of historical climatic variation-The case of Qinghai Lake and Daihai Lake. Chin Sci Bull, 36: 1364–1368Google Scholar
  30. Wang S M, Shi Y F. 1992. Review and discussion on the late Quaternary evolution of Qinghai Lake (in Chinese with English abstract). J Lake Sci, 4: 1–9Google Scholar
  31. Watanabe T, Nakamura T, Nara F W, et al. 2009. High-time resolution AMS 14C data sets for Lake Baikal and Lake Hovsgol sediment cores: Changes in radiocarbon age and sedimentation rates during the transition from the last glacial to the Holocene. Quat Int, 205: 12–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Yan J P, Hinderer M, Einsele G. 2002. Geochemical evolution of closed-basin lakes, general model and application to Lakes Qinghai and Turkana. Sediment Geol, 148: 105–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Yi W J, Li X Y, Cui B L, et al. 2010. Climate change and impact on water level of the Qinghai Lake watershed (in Chinese with English abstract). J Arid Meteor, 28: 375–383Google Scholar
  34. Yuan S X, Wu X H, Gao S J, et al. 2000. Comparison of different bone pretreatment methods for AMS 14C dating. Nucl Instrum Methods Phys Res Sect B-Beam Interact Mater Atoms, 172: 424–427CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Zhang H C, Peng J L, Ma Y Z, et al. 2004. Late Quaternary palaeolake levels in Tengger Desert, NW China. Paleogeogr Paleoclimatol Paleoecol, 211: 45–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhou L, Jin Z D, Li F C. 2012. Mineralogy of the otoliths of naked carp Gymnocypris przewalskii (Kessler) from Lake Qinghai and its Sr/Ca potential implications for migratory pattern. Sci China Earth Sci, 55: 983–990CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • YuJiao Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • ZhangDong Jin
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Ling Zhou
    • 1
    • 4
  • FuChun Li
    • 2
    Email author
  • Fei Zhang
    • 1
  • LiuMei Chen
    • 1
  • XinNing Qiu
    • 5
  • RuGui Qi
    • 5
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, Institute of Earth EnvironmentChinese Academy of SciencesXi’anChina
  2. 2.College of Resources and Environmental SciencesNanjing Agricultural UniversityNanjingChina
  3. 3.Institute of Global Environmental ChangeXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anChina
  4. 4.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  5. 5.The Bureau of Hydrology and Water Resources of Qinghai ProvinceXi’ningChina

Personalised recommendations