Recent observations and model simulations have highlighted the sensitivity of the forest-tundra ecotone to climatic forcing. In contrast, paleoecological studies have not provided evidence of tree-line fluctuations in response to Holocene climatic changes in Alaska, suggesting that the forest-tundra boundary in certain areas may be relatively stable at multicentennial to millennial time scales. We conducted a multiproxy study of sediment cores from an Alaskan lake near the altitudinal limits of key boreal-forest species. Paleoecological data were compared with independent climatic reconstructions to assess ecosystem responses of the forest tundra boundary to Little Ice Age (LIA) climatic fluctuations. Pollen, diatom, charcoal, macrofossil, and magnetic analyses provide the first continuous record of vegetation fire-climate interactions at decadal to centennial time scales during the past 700 years from southern Alaska. Boreal-forest diebacks characterized by declines of Picea mariana, P. glauca, and tree Betula occurred during the LIA (AD 1500-1800), whereas shrubs (Alnus viridis, Betula glandulosa/nana) and herbaceous taxa (Epilobium, Aconitum) expanded. Marked increases in charcoal abundance and changes in magnetic properties suggest increases in fire importance and soil erosion during the same period. In addition, the conspicuous reduction or disappearance of certain aquatic (e.g., Isoetes, Nuphar, Pediastrum) and wetland (Sphagnum) plants and major shifts in diatom assemblages suggest pronounced lake-level fluctuations and rapid ecosystem reorganization in response to LIA climatic deterioration. Our results imply that temperature shifts of 1-2 degrees C, when accompanied by major changes in moisture balance, can greatly alter high-altitudinal terrestrial, wetland, and aquatic ecosystems, including conversion between boreal-forest tree line and tundra. The climatic and ecosystem variations in our study area appear to be coherent with changes in solar irradiance, suggesting that changes in solar activity contributed to the environmental instability of the past 700 years.
Diatoms, combined with a multiproxy study of lake sediments (organic matter, N, d15N, d13C, biogenic silica, grain size, Cladocera and chironomids, Alnus pollen) from Lone Spruce Pond, Alaska detail the late-glacial to Holocene history of the lake and its response to regional climate and landscape change over the last 14.5 cal ka BP. We show that the immigration of alder (Alnus viridis) in the early Holocene marks the rise of available reactive nitrogen (Nr) in the lake as well as the establishment of a primarily planktonic diatom community. The later establishment of diatom Discostella stelligera is coupled to a rise of sedimentary d15N, indicating diminished competition for this nutrient. This terrestrial-aquatic linkage demonstrates how profoundly vegetation may affect soil geochemistry, lake development, and lake ecology over millennial timescales. Furthermore, the response of the diatom community to strengthened stratification and N levels in the past confirms the sensitivity of planktonic diatom communities to changing thermal and nutrient regimes. These past ecosystem dynamics serve as an analogue for the nature of threshold-type ecological responses to current climate change and atmospheric nitrogen (Nr) deposition, but also for the larger changes we should anticipate under future climate, pollution, and vegetation succession scenarios in high-latitude and high-elevation regions.
Cites: Science. 2009 Jun 5;324(5932):128819498161
Cites: Proc Biol Sci. 2009 Feb 7;276(1656):427-3518812287
Cites: Science. 1990 Dec 7;250(4986):1383-517754982
The composition and macroscopic structure of the floating oxygenic phototrophic communities from Kulunda steppe soda lakes (Petukhovskoe sodovoe, Tanatara VI, and Gorchiny 3) was described based on the data of the 2011 and 2012 expeditions (Winogradsky Institute of Microbiology). The algo-bacterial community with a green alga Ctenocladus circinnatus as an edificator was the typical one. Filamentous Geitlerinema sp. and Nodosilinea sp. were the dominant cyanobacteria. Apart from C. circinnatus, the algological component of the community contained unicellular green algae Dunaliella viridis and cf. Chlorella minutissima, as well as diatoms (Anomeoneis sphaerophora, Brchysira brebissonii, Brachysira zellensis, Mastogloia pusilla var. subcapitata, Nitzschia amphibia, Nitzschia communis, and Nitzschia sp.1). The latter have not been previously identified in the lakes under study. In all lakes, a considerable increase in salinity was found to result in changes in the composition and macroscopic structure of algo-bacterial communities.
Diatoms (Bacillariophyceae) are important primary producers in a wide range of hydro-terrestrial habitats in polar regions that are characterized by many extreme environmental conditions. Nevertheless, how they survive periods of drought and/or freeze remains unknown. A general strategy of microorganisms to overcome adverse conditions is dormancy, but morphologically distinct diatom resting stages are rare. This study aimed to evaluate the annual cycle of freshwater diatoms in the High Arctic (Central Spitsbergen) and provide an insight into their physiological cell status variability. The diversity and viability of diatom cells were studied in samples collected five times at four study sites, tracing the key events for survival (summer vegetative season, autumn dry-freezing, winter freezing, spring melting, summer vegetative season [again]). For viability evaluation, a multiparameter fluorescent staining was used in combination with light microscopy and allowed to reveal the physiological status at a single-cell level. The proportions of the cell categories were seasonally and locality dependent. The results suggested that a significant portion of vegetative cells survive winter and provide an inoculum for the following vegetative season. The ice thickness significantly influenced spring survival. The thicker the ice layer was, the more dead cells and fewer other stages were observed. The influence of the average week max-min temperature differences in autumn and winter was not proven.
Mining has changed landscapes locally in northern Fennoscandia and there is an increasing pressure for exploitation of the remaining mineral deposits of the region. Mineral deposits, even if unmined, can strongly influence stream water chemistry, stream biological communities and the ability of organisms to tolerate stressors. Using data sampled from six mining areas with three active (gold and chrome), two closed (gold) and one planned mine (phosphate), we examined how mineral deposits and mining influence water chemistry and diatom and macroinvertebrate communities in subarctic streams in Finnish Lapland. We supplemented the data by additional samples compiled from databases and further assessed how variation in background geological conditions influences bioassessments of the impacts arising from mining. We found that water specific conductivity was elevated in our study streams draining through catchments with a high mineral potential. Mining effects were mainly seen as increased concentration of nitrogen. Influence of mineral deposits was detected in composition of diatom and macroinvertebrate communities, but communities in streams in areas with a high mineral potential were as diverse as those in streams in areas with a low mineral potential. Mining impacts were better detected for diatoms using a reference condition based on sites with a high than low mineral potential, while for macroinvertebrates, the responses were generally less evident, likely because of only minor effects of mining on water chemistry. Community composition and frequencies of occurrence of macroinvertebrate taxa were, however, highly similar between mine-influenced streams and reference streams with a high potential for minerals indicating that the communities are strongly structured by the natural influence of mineral deposits. Incorporating geochemistry into the reference condition would likely improve bioassessments of both taxonomic groups. Replicated monitoring in potentially impacted sites and reference sites would be the most efficient framework for detecting environmental impacts in streams draining through mineral-rich catchments.
Climate change is altering the biogeochemical and physical characteristics of the Arctic marine environment, which impacts sea ice algal and phytoplankton bloom dynamics and the vertical transport of these carbon sources to benthic communities. Little is known about whether the contribution of sea ice-derived carbon to benthic fauna and nitrogen cycling has changed over multiple decades in concert with receding sea ice. We combined compound-specific stable isotope analysis of amino acids with highly branched isoprenoid diatom lipid biomarkers using archived (1982-2016) tissue of benthivorous Atlantic walrus to examine temporal trends of sea ice-derived carbon, nitrogen isotope baseline and trophic position of Atlantic walrus at high- and mid-latitudes in the Canadian Arctic. Associated with an 18% sea ice decline in the mid-Arctic, sea ice-derived carbon contribution to Atlantic walrus decreased by 75% suggesting a strong decoupling of sea ice-benthic habitats. By contrast, a nearly exclusive amount of sea ice-derived carbon was maintained in high-Arctic Atlantic walrus (98% in 1996 and 89% in 2006) despite a similar percentage in sea ice reduction. Nitrogen isotope baseline or the trophic position of Atlantic walrus did not change over time at either location. These findings indicate latitudinal differences in the restructuring of carbon energy sources used by Atlantic walrus and their benthic prey, and in turn a change in Arctic marine ecosystem functioning between sea ice-pelagic-benthic habitats.
ß-N-Methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA), a neurotoxic non-protein amino acid, plays a significant role as an environmental risk factor in neurodegenerative diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. BMAA producers occur globally, colonizing almost all habitats and represent species from distinct phytoplanktonic groups, i.e., cyanobacteria, diatoms, and dinoflagellates. Bioaccumulation of BMAA in invertebrate and vertebrate organisms has also been registered around the globe. In the Baltic Sea, BMAA has been detected in several commercial fish species, raising the question of the bioaccumulation of BMAA in Swedish limnic systems. Here we find the presence of BMAA in water samples from Lake Finjasjön and identify its bioaccumulation patterns in both plankti-benthivorous and piscivorous fish, according to fish species, total weight, gender, and season of collection. For the first time, a large number of fish individuals were used in order to draw conclusions on BMAA bioaccumulation in a closed ecological community based on a statistical approach. We may, therefore, conclude that feeding patterns (plankti-benthivorous) and increased age of fish may lead to a higher tissue concentration of BMAA.
Cites: Environ Microbiol. 2008 Mar;10(3):702-818237305
Cites: J Fish Biol. 2010 May;76(7):1848-5520557636
Cites: Neuroreport. 2012 Mar 7;23(4):216-922314682
Cites: Mar Drugs. 2012 Feb;10(2):509-2022412816
Cites: Analyst. 2012 May 7;137(9):1991-200522421821
Head space solid-phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry has been applied to analyze the volatile components of six marine microalgae (Thalassiosira weissflogii, Nitzschia closterium, Chaetoceros calcitrans, Platymonas helgolandica, Nannochloropsis spp. and Dicrateria inornata) from Bacillariophyta, Chlorophyta and Chrysophyta, respectively, in different growth phases.
All volatile compounds were identified by database searching in the NIST08 Mass Spectral Library and analyzed by principal component analysis with SIMCA-P software (Umetrics, Umea, Sweden). The results clearly revealed that the volatile components of the six microalgae were significantly different in the exponential, stationary and declining phases. Aldehydes, alkanes, some esters and dimethyl sulfide significantly changed in different growth phases.
Lake Baikal, lying in a rift zone in southeastern Siberia, is the world's oldest, deepest, and most voluminous lake that began to form over 30 million years ago. Cited as the "most outstanding example of a freshwater ecosystem" and designated a World Heritage Site in 1996 due to its high level of endemicity, the lake and its ecosystem have become increasingly threatened by both climate change and anthropogenic disturbance. Here, we present a record of nutrient cycling in the lake, derived from the silicon isotope composition of diatoms, which dominate aquatic primary productivity. Using historical records from the region, we assess the extent to which natural and anthropogenic factors have altered biogeochemical cycling in the lake over the last 2,000 y. We show that rates of nutrient supply from deep waters to the photic zone have dramatically increased since the mid-19th century in response to changing wind dynamics, reduced ice cover, and their associated impact on limnological processes in the lake. With stressors linked to untreated sewage and catchment development also now impacting the near-shore region of Lake Baikal, the resilience of the lake's highly endemic ecosystem to ongoing and future disturbance is increasingly uncertain.