Indexed on: 19 Oct '11Published on: 19 Oct '11Published in: Hydrobiologia
This study explores changes in cladoceran composition in a high mountain lake of the Retezat (Lake Brazi), the South Carpathian Mountains of Romania, during the Late Glacial–Early Holocene (14,500–11,600 cal. yr. bp) transition using a paleolimnological approach. The lake had a species poor cladoceran community throughout this period. Daphnia longispina, Chydorus sphaericus and Alona affinis were the most common, showing marked fluctuations in their relative abundances through time. Distinct faunal response to warming at the Younger Dryas (YD)/Preboreal transition was recorded by increasing fossil densities and distinct community composition change: Alona affinis became dominant while numbers of Chydorus sphaericus dramatically decreased. In the Early Holocene, the productivity of Lake Brazi seem to have increased as reflected by higher numbers of Cladocera due to appearance of new species (Alona rectangula, A. quadrangularis and A. guttata) which are common in productive waters. Significant negative correlation was found between average dorsal length of daphnid ephippia and the NGRIP δ18O isotope values. Given the absence of fish predation, changes in Daphnia ephippia size were taken to indicate climatic change: larger ephippium size inferred cold conditions during the Late Glacial, while smaller size reflected climate warming during the Early Holocene. We conclude that Cladocera fossils are good indicators of climatic change that happened during the transition from the Late Glacial to the Holocene. We found that climatic conditions can be tracked either by size distribution of Daphnia ephippia (larger ephippium size under colder climate) and/or by community change of cladocerans.