Retrogressive thaw slumps, which are a type of landslide disturbance caused by thawing of ice-rich permafrost, are increasing in size, intensity, and frequency in the Arctic because of climate warming. The formation of thaw slumps on lake shorelines in the Mackenzie Delta region (Northwest Territories, Canada) has been shown to increase water clarity, which may increase exposure risk of aquatic biota to potentially harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. To test this, we inferred temporal trends in UV exposure for the cladoceran Chydorus (Family Chydoridae, Class Branchiopoda) in a slump-affected lake and a neighbouring undisturbed lake by measuring absorbance at UV wavelengths in Chydorus subfossil carapaces isolated from lake-sediment cores. There was no statistically significant difference in Chydorus carapace UV-absorbance measures between the slump-affected and the undisturbed lake, despite notable differences in dissolved organic carbon and water clarity. No increase in Chydorus UV-absorbance measures occurred in the slump-impacted lake following re-initiation of slumping in the ~ 1990s, but a steady increase in UV absorbance was observed in both lakes since ~ 1800, independent of slump formation. Overall, the results of this study suggest that retrogressive thaw slumping did not substantially increase Chydorus exposure to potentially harmful UV radiation. As benthic taxa, Chydorus are likely able to find refuge among the dense macrophyte beds that develop in slump-affected lakes, which would provide shading from UV radiation.
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We thank the Aurora Research Institute and the Polar Continental Shelf Program for assistance with fieldwork logistics, and David Eickmeyer and Linda Kimpe (University of Ottawa) for assistance with field sampling and sediment core dating. We also thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.
This work was funded by an NSERC Discovery grant to JBK and an NSERC Discovery Northern Supplement to JMB.
The authors declare there are no competing interests.
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Auger, B., Nevalainen, L., Blais, J.M. et al. A comparative paleolimnological analysis of Chydorus exposure to ultraviolet radiation associated with shoreline retrogressive thaw slumping in lakes of the Mackenzie Delta uplands (Northwest Territories, Canada). J Paleolimnol 70, 193–204 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10933-023-00290-z