The influence of Holocene tree-line advance and retreat on an arctic lake ecosystem: A multi-proxy study from Kharinei Lake, North Eastern European Russia

V.J. Jones (Corresponding author), N. Solovieva, A.E. Self, S. McGowan, P. Rosén, J.S. Salonen, H. Seppä, M. Väliranta, E. Parrott, S.J. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


A consequence of predicted climate warming will be tree-line advance over large areas of the Russian tundra. Palaeolimnological techniques can be used to provide analogues of how such changes in tree-line advance and subsequent retreat affected lake ecosystems in the past. A Holocene sediment core taken from Kharinei Lake (Russia) was dated radiometrically and used for multi-proxy analyses with the aim of determining how climate and tree-line dynamics affected the productivity, community structure, carbon cycling and light regime in the lake. Pollen and macrofossil analyses were used to determine the dates of the arrival and retreat of birch and spruce forest. C:N ratios and percent loss-on-ignition were used to infer past changes in sediment organic matter. Visible-near-infrared spectroscopy and diatom analysis were used to infer past changes in lake-water carbon. Algal pigments and aquatic macrophytes were used to determine changes in lake productivity and light. Chironomids together with remains of the aquatic flora and fauna were used to provide information on past July temperature and continentality. Lake sedimentation was initiated shortly before 11,000 cal. years BP, when both chironomid- and pollen-inferred temperature reconstructions suggest higher summer temperatures than present, between 1 and 2°C warmer, and lake productivity was relatively high. A few trees were already present at this time. The spruce forest expanded at 8,000 cal. year BP remaining in the vicinity of the lake until 3,500 cal. year BP. This period coincided with a high concentration of organic material in the water column, and relatively high benthic productivity, as indicated by a high benthic: planktonic diatom ratio. After tree-line retreat, the optical transparency of the lake increased, and it became more open and exposed, and was thus subject to greater water-column mixing resulting in a higher abundance of diatom phytoplankton, especially heavily silicified Aulocoseira species. The colder climate resulted in a shorter ice-free period, the lake was less productive and there was a loss of aquatic macrophytes. Increased wind-induced mixing following forest retreat had a greater influence on the lake ecosystem than the effects of decreasing organic matter concentration and increased light penetration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-137
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Chironomids
  • Diatoms
  • Macrofossils
  • Organic carbon
  • Pigments


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