Rising variance and abrupt shifts of subfossil chironomids due to eutrophication in a deep sub-alpine lake

Abstract

In response to anthropogenic eutrophication and global warming, deep-water oxygen depletion is expected to have large effects on freshwater lake biogeochemistry and resident communities. In particular, it has been observed that deep-water hypoxia may potentially lead to regime shifts of lake benthic communities. We explored such community shifts by reconstructing a high-resolution subfossil chironomid record from a sediment core collected in the sub-alpine lake Remoray in France. We identified an abrupt shift in chironomid composition triggered by the collapse of the dominant Sergentia coracina-type chironomids around 1980. We found that the collapse of Sergentia coracina type was coupled to a gradual increase in organic matter content in lake sediments caused by eutrophication. We concluded that the most probable cause for the collapse of Sergentia coracina type was a change in oxygen concentrations below the minimal threshold for larval growth. We also analyzed trends in variance and autocorrelation of chironomid dynamics to test whether they can be used as early warnings of the Sergentia collapse. We found that variance rose prior to the collapse, but it was marginally significant (Kendal rank correlation 0.71, p = 0.05), whereas autocorrelation increased but insignificantly and less strongly (Kendal rank correlation 0.23, p = 0.25). By combining reconstructions of ecosystem dynamics and environmental drivers, our approach demonstrates how lake sediments may provide insights into the long-term dynamics of oxygen in lakes and its impact on aquatic fauna.

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Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the two anonymous reviewers and Michael Monagan for their constructive comments on this manuscript. We thank Laurent Millet and Valérie Verneaux (Chrono-Environnement, Besançon) for constructive discussions and Vincent Bichet and Laurie Murgia (Chrono-Environnement, Besançon) for technical help during coring survey and dating methods. We thank Christian Hossann (INRA Nancy, Champenoux) for assistance in the stable isotope analysis of carbon. Financial support was provided by Conseil Régional de Franche-Comté. The PTEF facility is supported by the French National Research Agency through the Laboratory of Excellence ARBRE (ANR-11-LABX-0002-01). VD is supported by an ETH fellowship through the Center for Adaptation to a Changing Environment.

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Electronic Supplementary Material 1

A: Trend in standard deviation of the relative abundances of Sergentia coracina-type using rolling windows of n = 16, 20 and 24 years. Vertical dashed line indicates the significant abrupt change in the composition of the chironomid assemblages. B: Distribution of the Kendall τ estimates of the 100 surrogate time series after fitting an ARMA model to the data (see Methods). The red square indicates the Kendall τ estimate of the original data and p is the actual p-value (PDF 374 kb)

Electronic Supplementary Material 2

A: Trend in autocorrelation (as the coefficient of a first order Auto-Regressive model; AR1) of the relative abundances of Sergentia coracina-type using rolling windows of n = 16, 20 and 24 years (Dakos et al., 2012). Vertical dashed line indicates the significant abrupt change in the composition of the chironomid assemblages. B: Distribution of the Kendall τ estimates of the 100 surrogate time series after fitting an ARMA model to the data (see Methods). The red square indicates the Kendall τ estimate of the original data and p is the actual p-value (PDF 378 kb)

Electronic Supplementary Material 3

A: Trend in standard deviation of PCA1 scores using rolling windows of n = 16, 20 and 24 years. Vertical dashed line indicates the significant abrupt change in the composition of the chironomid assemblages. B: Distribution of the Kendall τ estimates of the 100 surrogate time series after fitting an ARMA model to the data (see Methods). The red square indicates the Kendall τ estimate of the original data and p is the actual p-value (PDF 455 kb)

Electronic Supplementary Material 4

A: Trend in autocorrelation (as the coefficient of a first order Auto-Regressive model; AR1) of PCA1 scores using rolling windows of n = 16, 20 and 24 years (Dakos et al., 2012). Vertical dashed line indicates the significant abrupt change in the composition of the chironomid assemblages. B: Distribution of the Kendall τ estimates of the 100 surrogate time series after fitting an ARMA model to the data (see Methods). The red square indicates the Kendall τ estimate of the original data and p is the actual p-value (PDF 362 kb)

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Belle, S., Baudrot, V., Lami, A. et al. Rising variance and abrupt shifts of subfossil chironomids due to eutrophication in a deep sub-alpine lake. Aquat Ecol 51, 307–319 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10452-017-9618-3

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Keywords

  • Global change
  • Regime shift
  • Early-warning signal
  • Oxygen depletion
  • Benthic food web
  • Paleolimnology