Development of an Arcellacea (testate lobose amoebae) based transfer function for sedimentary Phosphorus in lakes

R. Timothy Patterson, Helen M. Roe, Graeme T. Swindles

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Arcellacea (testate lobose amoebae) communities were assessed from 73 sediment-water interface samples collected from 33 lakes in urban and rural settings within the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario, Canada, as well as from forested control areas in the Lake Simcoe area, Algonquin Park and eastern Ontario. The results were used to: (1) develop a statistically rigorous arcellacean-based training set for sedimentary phosphorus (Olsen P (OP)) loading; and (2) derive a transfer function to reconstruct OP levels during the post-European settlement era (AD1870s onward) using a chronologically well-constrained core from Haynes Lake on the environmentally sensitive Oak Ridges Moraine, within the GTA. Ordination analysis indicated that OP most influenced arcellacean assemblages, explaining 6.5% (p < 0.005) of total variance. An improved training set where the influence of other important environmental variables (e.g. total organic carbon, total nitrogen, Mg) was reduced, comprised 40 samples from 31 lakes, and was used to construct a transfer function for lacustrine arcellaceans for sedimentary phosphorus (Olsen P) using tolerance downweighted weighted averaging (WA-Tol) with inverse deshrinking (RMSEPjack-77pp; r2jack = 0.68). The inferred reconstruction indicates that OP levels remained near pre-settlement background levels from settlement in the late AD 1970s through to the early AD 1970s. Since OP runoff from both forests and pasture is minimal, early agricultural land use within the lake catchment was as most likely pasture and/or was used to grow perennial crops such as Timothy-grass for hay. A significant increase in inferred OP concentration beginning ~ AD 1972 may have been related to a change in crops (e.g. corn production) in the catchment resulting in more runoff, and the introduction of chemical fertilizers. A dramatic decline in OP after ~ AD 1985 probably corresponds to a reduction in chemical fertilizer use related to advances in agronomy, which permitted a more precise control over required fertilizer application. Another significant increase in OP levels after ~ AD 1995 may have been related to the construction of a large golf course upslope and immediately to the north of Haynes Lake in AD 1993, where significant fertilizer use is required to maintain the fairways. These results demonstrate that arcellaceans have great potential for reconstructing lake water geochemistry and will complement other proxies (e.g. diatoms) in paleolimnological research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-44
Number of pages13
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Palaeontology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Oceanography


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