Subfossil remains of Pediastrum – a tool to obtain palaeolimnological information parallel to pollen analysis?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 1:55 PM
Falko Turner, Liping Zhu, Qingfeng Ma, Ping Peng and Xinmiao Lü, ITP Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
It has been a long-time goal of palynologists to obtain additionally palaeoenvironmental information by the study of Quaternary non-pollen-palynomorphs (NPPs) in pollen slides. As a group of NPPs, subfossil remains of green algae of the genus Pediastrum (fam. Hydrodictyaceae) are frequently found in lake sediments and withstand the palynological standard preparation methods. Determination of Pediastrum taxa to subspecies level is relatively easy with a standard light microscope. Very few studies, however, have used them as palaeolimnological indicators and the knowledge on recent distribution and ecology of many taxa is limited. Introducing new data from Northwestern Europe and the Tibetan Plateau, we show that analysis of subfossil Pediastrum assemblages can reveal valuable information on limnological and climate parameters. Shifts in taxonomic composition of Pediastrum assemblages from lake sediments in northern Germany are shown to strongly reflect the Northern Atlantic Late Glacial climate oscillations. In contrast to previous studies that recognized trophic state as the main driver of change in Pediastrum species composition, we identify climate shifts and related factors as the major drivers of community change. Water depth and trophic state probably acted as secondary factors only. Ongoing research compares the composition of Pediastrum assemblages in surface sediments of Tibetan lakes to environmental variables. While Pediastrum algae are shown to be a part of phytoplankton communities in freshwater to mesosaline lakes, shifts in species composition along the salinity gradient indicate the possible use of the algae group as palaeobioindicator for past humidity changes on the Tibetan Plateau. Additionally, investigations on the relation between water depth and the Pediastrum species composition in lake Taro Co (4575 m asl.) are presented. Our results suggest this algae group has great potential for enabling environmental inferences.