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PaleolimnologyThe History and Evolution of Lake Systems$
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Andrew S. Cohen

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195133530

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195133530.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 June 2021

The Biological Environment of Lakes

The Biological Environment of Lakes

(p.96) 5 The Biological Environment of Lakes

Andrew S. Cohen

Oxford University Press

Biological processes form the basis for a rich source of information for paleolimnologists. Populations of organisms are sensitive to variations in their external environment, and this sensitivity can be recorded as proportional changes in fossil abundances, evolutionary change, or extinction. Variations in lake temperature or water chemistry below the threshold of geochemical archives would normally go unrecorded in lake deposits were it not for fossils capable of registering these changes. Biotic systems are also the most complex components of lake systems, involving numerous species, their interactions with each other, and with their external environment. As a result, the interpretation of lacustrine fossil records is rarely straightforward, and must be viewed in the context of complex ecological dynamics, unfolding against a background of environmental and evolutionary change. In this chapter we will consider the biotic structure of lakes from a paleolimnological perspective, focusing on organisms and ecological interactions likely to be preserved in a lake’s fossil record. A transect running downslope and offshore from the shoreline will almost invariably reveal a change in habitat and lake organisms (see figure 3.2). In the shallow, littoral zone, high rates of photosynthesis can normally be supported, as light is not a limiting factor for growth. A high diversity of autotrophic and heterotrophic (consuming) organisms is encountered here. Near the shoreline, a fringe of emergent or submerged macrophytes is often present, either attached to the substrate, or floating nearshore. These plants form a substrate for many attached (epiphytic) or crawling organisms. On wave-swept, rocky, or sandy coasts macrophytes may be absent, but abundant algae or photosynthetic bacteria may be present, attached to rock surfaces (epilithic), or adhering to sand grains. In the sublittoral zone, light penetration is reduced, and large macrophytic plants are absent, but lower levels of benthic primary production may persist from algal or bacterial growth. Although algae are frequently found below the photic zone, because of circulation or settling, they are not photosynthesizing under such conditions. In the aphotic, profundal zone food resources are provided exclusively through secondary productivity, consumption of settling detritus (or the organisms that feed on such detritus), and microbial food resources.

Keywords:   Alkalinity, Biomass, Calanoid copepods, Diaptomus, Embryophyta, Filter feeders, Graptoteberis, Habitat zonation, Insects

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