History of anthropogenically mediated eutrophication of Lake Peipsi as revealed by the stratigraphy of fossil pigments and molecular size fractions of pore-water dissolved organic matter
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We investigated stratigraphic changes in fossil pigments and the molecular structure of the UV-absorbing fraction of pore-water dissolved organic matter in a sedimentary record from Lake Peipsi (Estonia/Russia) temporally covering the 20th century. The aims of the study were to define the onset of eutrophication in the lake and to track its course. An attempt was also made to reconstruct lake conditions before the intensive nutrient loading began. Fossil pigment analysis indicated that the eutrophication of the lake started in the 1960s and accelerated in the 1970s. Sedimentary pigments also indicate a continuing tendency of the lake ecosystem towards eutrophy in the 1980s and 1990s. However, changes in the molecular size structure of pore-water dissolved organic matter indicated that the contribution of autochthonous matter to the organic pool of the lake ecosystem had already started to increase around the end of the 1930s. We conclude that this rise was generated by a coincidence of several anthropogenic and natural factors. The pore-water data also show that a slight relative reduction in the autochthonous organic matter took place in the 1990s. A discordance in the paleodata obtained for the beginning of the 20th century complicates clear conclusions about earlier conditions in the lake. On the one hand, the qualitative characteristics of pore-water dissolved organic matter and the low concentration of chlorophyll a indicate that the phytoplankton biomass was low in Lake Peipsi during that period. On the other hand, the concentrations of marker pigments of specific phytoplankton groups are high, comparable with the values in the recent sediments. Possible reasons for the high levels of these pigments in the early 1900s sediments, such as a shift in the preservation conditions of organic substances and their transport from the lake’s catchment, are discussed.
KeywordsPaleolimnology Lake sediments Sedimentary pigments Pore water Dissolved organic matter Lake Peipsi
The study was funded by the Estonian Science Foundation (grants Nos. 5582, 5923, 6720, 6741 and G6020PKPK06). We are indebted to Mr. T. Laur for his technical help, Dr. J. Klõšeiko for software support, Dr. T. Nõges for the water-level data and Dr. H. Simola for his criticism, comments and suggestions on the manuscript.
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