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Biogeochemical responses of two alpine lakes to climate change and atmospheric deposition, Jasper and Banff National parks, Canadian Rocky Mountains

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Abstract:

The sensitivity of remote alpine ecosystems to global change has been documented by 20th century changes in climate, glacial recession, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Here we present sedimentary records of biogeochemical responses in two alpine lake ecosystems to multiple environmental drivers over the last ∼500 years in Banff and Jasper National Parks (Alberta, Canada). We combine paleoecological measures of primary production and diatom community structure with geochemical proxies of reactive N (Nr) deposition to describe the nature and rate of recent ecosystem changes. Curator Lake in Jasper shows a strong diatom response to the limnological effects of climate warming (e.g., thermal stratification), but little evidence of changes in Nr cycling over the last ∼500 years. The response of McConnell Lake in Banff to climate change is strongly mediated by glacial activity within the catchment and changing inputs of Nr. Our findings highlight the range of limnological responses that may be expressed by similar ecosystems subjected to comparable abiotic stressors, while further documenting the magnitude of the ecological footprint associated with recent environmental change in mountain park environments.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1139/f2011-058

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E9, Canada. 2: Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E3, Canada.

Publication date: August 23, 2011

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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