Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 15–30 | Cite as

Diatom-based paleolimnological reconstruction of regional climate and local land-use change from a protected sinkhole lake in southern Florida, USA

  • Amanda K. Quillen
  • Evelyn E. GaiserEmail author
  • Eric C. Grimm
Original Paper


Despite their sensitivity to climate variability, few of the abundant sinkhole lakes of Florida have been the subject of paleolimnological studies to discern patterns of change in aquatic communities and link them to climate drivers. However, deep sinkhole lakes can contain highly resolved paleolimnological records that can be used to track long-term climate variability and its interaction with effects of land-use change. In order to understand how limnological changes were regulated by regional climate variability and further modified by local land-use change in south Florida, we explored diatom assemblage variability over centennial and semi-decadal time scales in an ~11,000-yr and a ~150-yr sediment core extracted from a 21-m deep sinkhole lake, Lake Annie, on the protected property of Archbold Biological Station. We linked variance in diatom assemblage structure to changes in water total phosphorus, color, and pH using diatom-based transfer functions. Reconstructions suggest the sinkhole depression contained a small, acidic, oligotrophic pond ~11000–7000 cal yr BP that gradually deepened to form a humic lake by ~4000 cal yr BP, coinciding with the onset of modern precipitation regimes and the stabilization of sea-level indicated by corresponding palynological records. The lake then contained stable, acidophilous planktonic and benthic algal communities for several thousand years. In the early AD 1900s, that community shifted to one diagnostic of an even lower pH (~5.6), likely resulting from acid precipitation. Further transitions over the past 25 yr reflect recovery from acidification and intensified sensitivity to climate variability caused by enhanced watershed runoff from small drainage ditches dug during the mid-twentieth Century on the surrounding property.


Florida Paleolimnology Diatoms Sinkhole lake Climate Hydrology 



We thank Archbold Biological Station for supporting this research, including housing the field crew during coring activities and for providing literature and other interpretive resources. In particular, we thank H. Swain for helpful discussions and R. Pickert for creating Fig. 1. Staff at the Illinois State Museum Research and Collections Center coordinated piston coring activities and P. Mueller and A. C. Dieffenbacher-Krall subsampled the core to provide material for diatom analysis. We thank W. Anderson for providing equipment, expertise and assistance in retrieving the freeze core and the Florida LAKEWATCH program for providing limnological data for developing the diatom-based environmental calibration functions. We also appreciate the taxonomic advice and laboratory support provided by F. Tobias and A. Wachnicka. The manuscript was improved after discussions with R. Wagner-Cremer, E. Kirilova, T. Donders, C. Pearce, J. Meeder and the comments of two anonymous reviewers. This work was coordinated with paleoecological efforts of the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research Program (National Science Foundation Grant No. DEB-9910514) and this is publication #525 of the FIU Southeast Environmental Research Center. Financial support for AKQ was provided in part by a Florida International University (FIU) Dissertation Year Fellowship. Lake Annie is a member of the Global Lakes Ecological Observatory Network.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amanda K. Quillen
    • 1
  • Evelyn E. Gaiser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eric C. Grimm
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences and Southeast Environmental Research CenterFlorida International UniversityMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Illinois State Museum Research and Collections CenterSpringfieldUSA

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