Stable oxygen isotopes in chironomid and cladoceran remains as indicators for lake-water δ18O

F. Verbruggen, O. Heiri, G. J. Reichart, C. Blaga and A. F. Lotter

Limnol. Oceanogr., 56(6), 2011, 2071-2079 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2011.56.6.2071

ABSTRACT: An understanding of modern relationships between the stable oxygen isotope composition (δ18O) of lake water and aquatic invertebrates is essential for the interpretation of paleoclimate records based on δ18O of organic remains of these organisms. We analyzed δ18O of lake water and invertebrate remains, including head capsules of chironomid larvae and resting eggs (ephippia) of planktonic Cladocera, in surface sediments from 31 large, deep, and stratified lakes along a latitudinal transect through Europe. The δ18O values measured for both lake water and aquatic invertebrate remains were compared to estimated δ18O in precipitation. A strong linear relationship between mean annual air temperature and δ18O of precipitation was observed along the north–south transect (r = 0.97), whereas the relationship between precipitation δ18O and lake-water δ18O was weaker (r = 0.80). A strong positive correlation was observed between δ18O in lake water and aquatic invertebrates (r = 0.95 and 0.94 for chironomids and cladocerans, respectively). Although slopes of linear regressions between lake-water δ18O and δ18O of both aquatic invertebrate groups are similar, a systematic offset between the absolute δ18O values of chironomids and cladocerans was observed; chironomids were on average 2.4‰ heavier than Cladocera. We attribute this offset to differences in ecology, metabolism, and/or behavior between benthic chironomid larvae and planktonic Cladocera. δ18O records based on subfossil chironomid and cladoceran remains have the potential to quantitatively characterize past lake-water δ18O and, indirectly, past climatic changes.

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