Climate versus in-lake processes as controls on the development of community structure in a low-arctic lake (South-West Greenland)

N. John Anderson, Klaus P. Brodersen, David B. Ryves (Corresponding author), Suzanne McGowan, Liselotte S. Johansson, Erik Jeppesen, Melanie J. Leng

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)


The dominant processes determining biological structure in lakes at millennial timescales are complex. In this study, we used a multi-proxy approach to determine the relative importance of in-lake versus indirect processes on the Holocene development of an oligotrophic lake in SW Greenland (66.99°N, 50.97°W). A 14C and 210Pb-dated sediment core covering approximately 8500 years BP was analyzed for organic-inorganic carbon content, pigments, diatoms, chironomids, cladocerans, and stable isotopes (δ13C, δ18O). Relationships among the different proxies and a number of independent controlling variables (Holocene temperature, an isotope-inferred cooling period, and immigration of Betula nana into the catchment) were explored using redundancy analysis (RDA) independent of time. The main ecological trajectories in the lake biota were captured by ordination first axis sample scores (18-32% variance explained). The importance of the arrival of Betula (ca. 6500 years BP) into the catchment was indicated by a series of partial-constrained ordinations, uniquely explaining 12-17% of the variance in chironomids and up to 9% in pigments. Climate influences on lake biota were strongest during a short-lived cooling period (identified by altered stable isotopes) early in the development of the lake when all proxies changed rapidly, although only chironomids had a unique component (8% in a partial-RDA) explained by the cooling event. Holocene climate explained less variance than either catchment changes or biotic relationships. The sediment record at this site indicates the importance of catchment factors for lake development, the complexity of community trends even in relatively simple systems (invertebrates are the top predators in the lake) and the challenges of deriving palaeoclimate inferences from sediment records in low-Arctic freshwater lakes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-324
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate
  • Holocene
  • Multi-proxy
  • Ontogeny
  • Trophic interactions
  • Variance partitioning


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