Testate amoebae (thecamoebians) as water quality indicators in lakes: development of a modern distributional dataset from the Greater Toronto Area.

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Thecamoebians were examined from 123 surface sediment samples collected from 45 lakes in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the surrounding region to i) elucidate the controls on faunal distribution in modern lake environments; and ii) to consider the utility of thecamoebians in quantitative studies of water quality change. This area was chosen because it includes a high density of lakes that are threatened by urban development and where water quality has deteriorated locally as a result of contaminant inputs, particularly nutrients. Canonical Correspondence analysis (CCA) and a series of partial CCAs were used to examine species-environment relationships. Twenty-four environmental variables were considered, including water properties (e.g. pH, DO, conductivity), substrate characteristics, nutrient loading, and environmentally available metals. The thecamoebian assemblages showed a strong association with Olsen's Phosphorus, reflecting the eutrophic status of many of the lakes, and locally to elevated conductivity measurements, which appear to reflect road salt inputs associated with winter de-icing operations. A transfer function was developed for Olsen P using this training set based on weighted averaging with inverse deshrinking (WA Inv). The model was applied to infer past changes in Phosphorus enrichment in core samples from several lakes, including eutrophic Haynes Lake within the GTA. Thecamoebian-inferred changes in sedimentary Phosphorus from a 210Pb dated core from Haynes Lake are related to i) widespread introduction of chemical fertilizers to agricultural land in the post WWII era; ii) a steep decline in Phosphorous with a change in agricultural practices in the late 1970s; and iii) the construction of a golf course in close proximity to the lake in the early 1990s. This preliminary study confirms that thecamoebians have considerable potential as indicators of eutrophication in lakes and can provide an estimate of baseline conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)410-411
Number of pages2
JournalQuaternary International
Early online date02 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2012

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