Lake biota response to human impact and local climate during the last 200 years: A multi-proxy study of a subalpine lake (Tatra Mountains, W Carpathians)

Sci Total Environ. 2016 Mar 1;545-546:320-8. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.12.049. Epub 2015 Dec 31.


Element content, loss-on-ignition, chironomid analysis and (210)Pb dating were applied on a sediment core from a subalpine Tatra lake (Popradské pleso) to reveal the response of aquatic biota to eutrophication induced by human activities in the lake catchment. The lead dating indicates that the 0-8 cm section of the core represents the past ca 200 years, ending at ~1814 AD. Comparing the key changes of the proxies with human activities that are historically well documented, four phases of the recent lake development were distinguished: (1) a pre-tourism phase, (2) a phase of increasing touristic activity and early cottage development, (3) a phase of eutrophication, and (4) a phase of post-eutrophication. Neither touristic activity, nor early cottage development around the lake (1st and 2nd phases) had considerable influence on the chironomid assemblage structure or organic content of the lake. The most significant change both in chironomid assemblage structure and loss-on-ignition occurred during the 3rd phase, when a big tourist hotel was built close by the lake and started contaminating it via direct wastewater input. However, the structure of the chironomid assemblage has not changed significantly over time and the dominating taxa remained the same during the whole period. Parallel with the nutrient signal of the paleo assemblage, a secondary signal has been identified as the ratio of rheophilic taxa on total abundance that did not correlate with the sediment's organic content, and is most likely driven by local climatic oscillations. Changes of most of metal elements concentrations reflected rather bigger scale changes of industrial activities than local scale human disturbances. Our results indicate that hydromorphological properties can moderate the impact of organic pollution on the lake biota.

Keywords: Chironomidae; Cultural eutrophication; Lake Popradské pleso; Loss-on-ignition; Metal elements; Paleolimnology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aquatic Organisms / physiology*
  • Biota
  • Climate Change
  • Environmental Monitoring*
  • Eutrophication
  • Human Activities
  • Humans
  • Lakes / chemistry*
  • Poland
  • Slovakia