Rising variance and abrupt shifts of subfossil chironomids due to eutrophication in a deep sub-alpine lake

In Aquatic Ecology. 51(2):307–319


In response to anthropogenic eutrophication and global warming, deep-water oxygen depletion is expected to have large effects on freshwater lake biogeochemistry and resident communities. In particular, it has been observed that deep-water hypoxia may potentially lead to regime shifts of lake benthic communities. We explored such community shifts by reconstructing a high-resolution subfossil chironomid record from a sediment core collected in the sub-alpine lake Remoray in France. We identified an abrupt shift in chironomid composition triggered by the collapse of the dominant Sergentia coracina-type chironomids around 1980. We found that the collapse of Sergentia coracina type was coupled to a gradual increase in organic matter content in lake sediments caused by eutrophication. We concluded that the most probable cause for the collapse of Sergentia coracina type was a change in oxygen concentrations below the minimal threshold for larval growth. We also analyzed trends in variance and autocorrelation of chironomid dynamics to test whether they can be used as early warnings of the Sergentia collapse. We found that variance rose prior to the collapse, but it was marginally significant (Kendal rank correlation 0.71, p = 0.05), whereas autocorrelation increased but insignificantly and less strongly (Kendal rank correlation 0.23, p = 0.25). By combining reconstructions of ecosystem dynamics and environmental drivers, our approach demonstrates how lake sediments may provide insights into the long-term dynamics of oxygen in lakes and its impact on aquatic fauna.


Global change ; Regime shift ; Early-warning signal ; Oxygen depletion ; Benthic food web ; Paleolimnology

Citation in bibtex

  title={Rising variance and abrupt shifts of subfossil chironomids due to eutrophication in a deep sub-alpine lake},
  author={Belle, Simon and Baudrot, Virgile and Lami, Andrea and Musazzi, Simona and Dakos, Vasilis},
  journal={Aquatic Ecology},