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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor B. Huntley

S. Roberts, V.J. Jones, J.R.M. Allen & B. Huntley (2015). Diatom response to mid-Holocene climate in three small Arctic lakes in northernmost Finnmark. The Holocene 25(6): 911-920.

Author(s) from Durham


Palaeoclimatic reconstructions from lake sediment biological records can be challenging, due to variation in non-climatic factors, which alter ecosystem responses. To consider this, it is important to replicate a study regionally, so as to gain information on spatial variability of ecosystem response and the influence of site-specific conditions. Previous pollen-based palaeoclimatic records from three well-dated Arctic lake sites highlight the response of regional Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) and Mountain Birch (Betula pubescens ssp. czerepanovii) forest-tundra transition to Holocene climatic variability and suggest the northernmost Peninsulas of Finnmark to be climatically sensitive. This study analysed dated sediment sequences between c. 3970 and c. 6200 cal. yr BP from these three previously published shallow lakes: Liten Čap’pesjav’ri (LCJ), over Gunnarsfjorden (OGF) and over Kobbkrokvatnet (OKV), for freshwater diatoms. Diatom assemblages showed an increase in the planktonic diatoms relative to benthic diatoms, with an onset towards higher abundances of small centric planktonic diatoms at OGF (between c. 5270 and 5350 cal. yr BP) and OKV (between c. 5280 and 5350 cal. yr BP). Additionally, a diatom compositional shift was detected at LCJ between c. 5180 and 5300 cal. yr BP. Trend analysis found the main diatom compositional change at all three sites to occur at 5300 cal. yr BP. However, this synchronous diatom shift during the mid-Holocene varies in magnitude within the three Finnmark lakes. The abrupt planktonic:benthic diatom ratio changes are independent of the Pinus:Betula ratios and are likely to be a result of lake ice-cover changes, allowing longer growing seasons, greater water column stability and higher nutrient concentrations from surrounding catchments. This study highlights the significant differences in aquatic ecosystem and terrestrial vegetation response to climatic changes, with diatom assemblages at these sites either responding before the regional tree-line shift or to a separate climatic event within the mid-Holocene.