Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 60, Issue 1, pp 97–107 | Cite as

The influence of depth and macrophyte habitat on paleoecological studies using chironomids: Enol Lake (Spain) as a case study

  • Pol Tarrats
  • Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles
  • Maria Rieradevall
  • Narcís Prat
Original paper


Paleolimnological studies often rely on a single sediment core for reconstructing past environmental changes of an entire lake system. This involves a number of assumptions about the correct representativeness of the living assemblage by the subfossil assemblage. This paper is aimed at understanding the main drivers affecting the dispersion and transportation of Chironomidae head capsules, which may affect the correct interpretation of downcore changes through overrepresentation or underrepresentation of certain taxa. We analyzed the chironomid living assemblage of Enol Lake (Picos de Europa National Park, Spain) and compared the subfossil assemblage at different depths. We found a highly homogeneous composition and density of recent subfossil assemblage along the depth transect (i.e. dominance of the Tanytarsini Paratanytarsus austriacus-type), which would indicate that a single core retrieved at any depth would be representative of the lake community. However, the composition of the benthic living assemblage changed significantly with depth, suggesting the existence of a driving force behind the dominance of P. austriacus-type in the subfossil assemblage. We argue that the dense mats of Characeae present in the sublittoral area (from 2 to 8 m) are most likely responsible for this homogenization, since this is the preferred habitat of Paratanytarsus, which was found at very high densities at this depth. Thus, we conclude that the interpretation of past changes in the lake conditions should be made with caution due to the overrepresentation of P. austriacus-type head capsules along the depth transect. Our findings show that it is important to explore the relationship between the living and the recent subfossil fauna of each lake in paleolimnological studies, since understanding deposition and transport patterns can help to avoid misinferring past environmental and limnological conditions.


Chironomidae Head capsules Transport Deposition Characeae 



Funding for this project came from the Spanish National Parks Autonomous Agency (OAPN) through the project CLAM: Evaluation and monitoring of Global Change in three high mountain lakes of Spanish National Parks (Enol, Marboré and la Caldera) (Project 623S/2012). P.T. was supported by a predoctoral FI-DGR grant from the Government of Catalonia. We are grateful to Núria Sánchez for fieldwork and laboratory assistance. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for valuable and constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

10933_2018_26_MOESM1_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pol Tarrats
    • 1
  • Miguel Cañedo-Argüelles
    • 1
    • 2
  • Maria Rieradevall
    • 1
  • Narcís Prat
    • 1
  1. 1.Freshwater Ecology and Management (F.E.M.) Research Group, Departament de Biologia Evolutiva, Ecologia i Ciències Ambientals, Secció EcologiaUniversitat de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.BETA Technological Centre, Aquatic Ecology GroupUniversity of Vic – Central University of CataloniaVicSpain

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