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Long-term environmental change and shifts in the aquatic plant community of Jones Creek, Thousand Islands National Park, Ontario, Canada based on plant macrofossil analysis

Abstract

Plant macrofossils and pollen were analyzed from sediment cores to identify long-term changes in the aquatic plant community of Jones Creek, Thousand Islands National Park, Ontario, Canada. Six sediment cores were recovered from Jones Creek in February 2014. One complete core and five top/bottom samples were analyzed for plant macrofossil abundance and diversity. Sediment analysis and 210Pb dating confirmed a productive wetland throughout the core, dating back beyond 1883 AD. Jones Creek is currently dominated by thick stands of cattails, particularly the hybrid white cattail (Typha x glauca Godr). The relative abundance of Typha pollen began to increase in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, reaching a relative abundance of nearly 40% in the modern day surface sediment. Common macrofossils recovered from the sediment record included seeds of Carex, Schoenoplectus, Najas, and Eleocharis. There is evidence that community composition, as recorded by the macrofossil record, has shifted in Jones Creek in response to human activities. In particular there has been a reduction in sedge species between historical and present day conditions as the wetland shifted from a sedge dominated wet-meadow wetland to a cattail dominated system. The results of our study indicate that future restoration efforts should be directed towards reintroducing native sedge species that were present prior to major changes in land-use that occurred in the St. Lawrence region throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Sheldon Lambert and the staff of Parks Canada for their support with the fieldwork. Funding from Parks Canada and an NSERC Discovery Grant to JCV supported this project.

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Correspondence to Jesse C. Vermaire.

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Boxem, R., Davis, E.L. & Vermaire, J.C. Long-term environmental change and shifts in the aquatic plant community of Jones Creek, Thousand Islands National Park, Ontario, Canada based on plant macrofossil analysis. J Paleolimnol 60, 349–360 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10933-016-9938-7

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Keywords

  • Plant macrofossils
  • Paleolimnology
  • Land-use change
  • Macrophytes
  • Environmental restoration
  • St. Lawrence River