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Spatial variability of chironomid death assemblages in the surface sediments of a fluctuating tropical lake (Lake Naivasha, Kenya)

Spatial variability of chironomid death assemblages in the surface sediments of a fluctuating tropical lake (Lake Naivasha, Kenya)

Journal of Paleolimnology 38(3): 309-328

Studies addressing within-lake variability of fossil chironomid assemblages are very few, and all deal with hydrologically stable temperate lakes where the question of spatial integration mostly relates to the mixing of faunal assemblages associated with shallow, warm-water habitat and those associated with deeper, cold-water habitat. Here we study within-lake variability of surface-sediment chironomid assemblages in the fairly large (similar to 100-170 km(2) since 1983) and shallow (Z(max) = 5-8 m) fluctuating tropical lake basin of Lake Naivasha, Kenya, and compare the patterns observed with those in two smaller adjacent basins, one similarly shallow (Lake Oloidien, 5.1-5.7 km(2), 5-8 m), the other deep and stratified (Crescent Island Crater, 1.9 km(2), 14-17 m). Chironomid assemblages were analysed in core-top samples and surface sediments along inshore to offshore transects, and how well individual samples represented the total (basin-wide mean) subfossil assemblage was considered both in terms of taxon richness and taxon percent composition. Within-lake variability of subfossil chironomid concentrations (with generally higher absolute values in nearshore samples) could be explained by effects of sediment winnowing and focusing, whereas between-lake variability reflected their relative susceptibility to wind-driven sediment disturbance or bottom anoxia. In all study lakes, but most significantly in lakes Naivasha and Oloidien, species distribution in the subfossil chironomid assemblages showed a strong nearshore to offshore gradient, which in these shallow lakes, reflects the dominant control of substrate and food quality on species distribution in the living community. Particularly in the larger basins, nearshore samples better represented the total lake assemblage than offshore samples, because the former always contained a component of mud-dwelling species whereas the latter often lacked a component of macrophyte-dwelling species. Our results show that although sedimentation dynamics in the shallow, wind-stressed Lake Naivasha is dominated by frequent resuspension and random sediment redistribution, the near- to offshore gradient in chironomid habitat remains imprinted on subfossil assemblages. We conclude that also in shallow fluctuating lakes, given sufficient size, incomplete pre-burial spatial integration of habitat-specific chironomid assemblages can be exploited for within-lake calibration of environmental gradients.

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Accession: 017099492

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DOI: 10.1007/s10933-006-9075-9

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