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Combining contemporary ecology and palaeolimnology to understand shallow lake ecosystem change

Combining contemporary ecology and palaeolimnology to understand shallow lake ecosystem change
Combining contemporary ecology and palaeolimnology to understand shallow lake ecosystem change
1. Palaeolimnology and contemporary ecology are complementary disciplines but are
rarely combined. By reviewing the literature and using a case study, we show how linking
the timescales of these approaches affords a powerful means of understanding ecological
change in shallow lakes.
2. Recently, palaeolimnology has largely been pre-occupied with developing transfer
functions which use surface sediment-lake environment datasets to reconstruct a single
environmental variable. Such models ignore complex controls over biological structure
and can be prone to considerable error in prediction. Furthermore, by reducing species
assemblage data to a series of numbers, transfer functions neglect valuable ecological
information on species’ seasonality, habitat structure and food web interactions. These
elements can be readily extracted from palaeolimnological data with the interpretive
assistance of contemporary experiments and surveys. For example, for one shallow lake,
we show how it is possible to infer long-term seasonality change from plant macrofossil
and fossil diatom data with the assistance of seasonal datasets on macrophyte and algal
dynamics.
3. On the other hand, theories on shallow lake functioning have generally been developed
from short-term (<1–15 years) studies as opposed to palaeo-data that cover the actual
timescales (decades–centuries) of shallow lake response to stressors such as eutrophication
and climate change. Palaeolimnological techniques can track long-term dynamics in lakes
whilst smoothing out short-term variability and thus provide a unique and important
means of not only developing ecological theories, but of testing them.
4. By combining contemporary ecology and palaeolimnology, it should be possible to gain
a fuller understanding of changing ecological patterns and processes in shallow lakes on
multiple timescales.
aquatic ecology, eutrophication, palaeolimnology, shallow lakes, temporal scale, transfer functions
0046-5070
487-499
Sayer, Carl D.
4f943cfe-5edf-4146-9332-239cd76cb905
Davidson, Thomas A.
f9b8bc3e-0a49-4877-aa04-afe97b77675b
Jones, John Iwan
155ce709-4e26-4048-b191-2cc624254143
Langdon, Peter G.
95b97671-f9fe-4884-aca6-9aa3cd1a6d7f
Sayer, Carl D.
4f943cfe-5edf-4146-9332-239cd76cb905
Davidson, Thomas A.
f9b8bc3e-0a49-4877-aa04-afe97b77675b
Jones, John Iwan
155ce709-4e26-4048-b191-2cc624254143
Langdon, Peter G.
95b97671-f9fe-4884-aca6-9aa3cd1a6d7f

Sayer, Carl D., Davidson, Thomas A., Jones, John Iwan and Langdon, Peter G. (2010) Combining contemporary ecology and palaeolimnology to understand shallow lake ecosystem change. Freshwater Biology, 55 (3), 487-499. (doi:10.1111/j.1365-2427.2010.02388.x).

Record type: Article

Abstract

1. Palaeolimnology and contemporary ecology are complementary disciplines but are
rarely combined. By reviewing the literature and using a case study, we show how linking
the timescales of these approaches affords a powerful means of understanding ecological
change in shallow lakes.
2. Recently, palaeolimnology has largely been pre-occupied with developing transfer
functions which use surface sediment-lake environment datasets to reconstruct a single
environmental variable. Such models ignore complex controls over biological structure
and can be prone to considerable error in prediction. Furthermore, by reducing species
assemblage data to a series of numbers, transfer functions neglect valuable ecological
information on species’ seasonality, habitat structure and food web interactions. These
elements can be readily extracted from palaeolimnological data with the interpretive
assistance of contemporary experiments and surveys. For example, for one shallow lake,
we show how it is possible to infer long-term seasonality change from plant macrofossil
and fossil diatom data with the assistance of seasonal datasets on macrophyte and algal
dynamics.
3. On the other hand, theories on shallow lake functioning have generally been developed
from short-term (<1–15 years) studies as opposed to palaeo-data that cover the actual
timescales (decades–centuries) of shallow lake response to stressors such as eutrophication
and climate change. Palaeolimnological techniques can track long-term dynamics in lakes
whilst smoothing out short-term variability and thus provide a unique and important
means of not only developing ecological theories, but of testing them.
4. By combining contemporary ecology and palaeolimnology, it should be possible to gain
a fuller understanding of changing ecological patterns and processes in shallow lakes on
multiple timescales.

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More information

Published date: 22 February 2010
Keywords: aquatic ecology, eutrophication, palaeolimnology, shallow lakes, temporal scale, transfer functions

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 80516
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/80516
ISSN: 0046-5070
PURE UUID: 2c5649aa-c2f0-4c9f-afc0-49bc06fa60fa
ORCID for Peter G. Langdon: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2724-2643

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 24 Mar 2010
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 01:42

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Contributors

Author: Carl D. Sayer
Author: Thomas A. Davidson
Author: John Iwan Jones

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