Holocene shifts in the primary producer community of large, shallow European Lake Peipsi, inferred from sediment pigment analysis

  • Ilmar TõnnoEmail author
  • Kristiina Nauts
  • Simon Belle
  • Monika Nõmm
  • Rene Freiberg
  • Toomas Kõiv
  • Tiiu Alliksaar
Original Paper


We used HPLC to identify and quantify pigments in a Holocene sediment record from large, shallow Lake Peipsi, Estonia. The aim of our study was to track the influence of long-term climate change (i.e. temperature fluctuations) on past dynamics of aquatic primary producers. Sedimentary pigments were separated and quantified in 182 samples that span the last ca. 10,000 years. There was an increasing trend in sedimentary pigment concentrations from basal to upper sediment layers, suggesting a gradual increase in lake trophic status through time. Using additive models, our results suggested that primary producer dynamics in Lake Peipsi were closely related to temperature fluctuations. We, however, identified two periods (early Holocene and after ca. 2.5 cal ka BP) when the relationship between primary producer composition and temperature was weak, suggesting the influence of additional drivers on the primary producer community. We postulate that: (a) the increase of primary producer biomass in the early Holocene could have been caused by input of allochthonous organic matter and nutrients from the flooded areas when water level in Lake Peipsi was increasing, and (b) changes in the abundance and structure of primary producer assemblages since ca. 2.5 cal ka BP was related to widespread agricultural activities in the Lake Peipsi catchment. These results suggest that human activities can disrupt the relationship between the primary producer community and temperature in large, shallow lakes.


Climate change Holocene Paleolimnology Shallow lake Sedimentary pigments Lake Peipsi 



This research was supported by institutional research grants IUT21-2, IUT1-8 and PRG323 and Estonian Science Foundation Grants Nos. 6741, 7888 and 9102. We acknowledge colleagues S. Veski, A. Heinsalu and J. Vassiljev for sediment coring and establishing the chronology, and A. Leeben for participating in the early stage of manuscript development. We are grateful for the comments and corrections made by two anonymous reviewers of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilmar Tõnno
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kristiina Nauts
    • 1
  • Simon Belle
    • 2
  • Monika Nõmm
    • 3
  • Rene Freiberg
    • 1
  • Toomas Kõiv
    • 1
  • Tiiu Alliksaar
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre for Limnology, Institute of Agricultural and Environmental SciencesEstonian University of Life SciencesRannuEstonia
  2. 2.Department of Aquatic Sciences and AssessmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  3. 3.The Institute of Veterinary Medicine and Animal SciencesEstonian University of Life SciencesTartuEstonia
  4. 4.Department of GeologyTallinn University of TechnologyTallinnEstonia

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