, Volume 683, Issue 1, pp 265–286 | Cite as

Seasonal and microhabitat influences on diatom assemblages and their representation in sediment traps and surface sediments from adjacent High Arctic lakes: Cape Bounty, Melville Island, Nunavut

  • Kailey A. Stewart
  • Scott F. Lamoureux
Primary Research Paper


The spatial (i.e. microhabitat) and temporal (i.e. seasonal) characteristics of diatom assemblages in adjacent High Arctic lakes were studied intensively June–August 2004. These baseline data are used to improve understanding of modern diatom community dynamics, as well to inform paleoenvironmental reconstructions. Diatoms were collected approximately weekly through the melt season from each principal benthic substrate (moss/macrophyte, rock scrapes, littoral sediment), plankton, and sediment traps, and were compared to the uppermost 0.5 cm of a surface core obtained from the deepest part of the lake where sediment cores are routinely collected. Water samples were collected concurrently with diatom samples to investigate species–environment relationships. The lakes share approximately half of their common taxa, the most abundant overall in both lakes being small Cyclotella species. Results of detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) indicate that the largest gradient in species turnover existed between benthic and planktonic communities in both lakes, and that sediment trap and the surface core top samples most closely resemble the planktonic assemblage, with an additional contribution from the lotic environment. Our results indicate clear micro-spatial controls on species assemblages and a degree of disconnection between the benthos and deep lake sediments that manifests as an under-representation of benthic taxa in deep lake surface sediments. These findings are particularly relevant in the context of interpreting the paleoenvironmental record and assessing ecosystem sensitivity to continued climate change.


Diatoms Arctic Seasonal Microhabitat Sediment trap Surface sediment 



This work was supported by a National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant to SFL, and a NSERC PGS-D Scholarship, Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP) Award, Queen’s Graduate Award, and McDonald-Sinclair Travelling Scholarship to KAS. We would also like to thank the Polar Continental Shelf Project (PCSP/PPCP contribution # 011-15), Natural Resources Canada for logistical support in conducting field research. We gratefully acknowledge field assistance by D. Atkinson, J. Wall, G. Hambley, A. Forbes, J. Cockburn, D. Macdonald, E. Wells and F. Forsythe.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography, Macintosh-Corry Hall, D201Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Geography, Macintosh-Corry Hall, D126Queen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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