FCE LTER Journal Articles


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


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.


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DBI-0620409 and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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