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Review article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

Investigating the effects of anthropogenic stressors on lake biota using sedimentary DNA

Barouillet, Cecilia; Monchamp, Marie-Eve; Bertilsson, Stefan; Brasell, Katie; Domaizon, Isabelle; Epp, Laura S.; Ibrahim, Anan; Mejbel, Hebah; Nwosu, Ebuka Canisius; Pearman, John K.; Picard, Mailys; Thomson-Laing, Georgia; Tsugeki, Narumi; Von Eggers, Jordan; Gregory-Eaves, Irene; Pick, Frances; Wood, Susanna A.; Capo, Eric


Analyses of sedimentary DNA (sedDNA) have increased exponentially over the last decade and hold great potential to study the effects of anthropogenic stressors on lake biota over time. Herein, we synthesise the literature that has applied a sedDNA approach to track historical changes in lake biodiversity in response to anthropogenic impacts, with an emphasis on the past c. 200 years. We identified the following research themes that are of particular relevance: (1) eutrophication and climate change as key drivers of limnetic communities; (2) increasing homogenisation of limnetic communities across large spatial scales; and (3) the dynamics and effects of invasive species as traced in lake sediment archives. Altogether, this review highlights the potential of sedDNA to draw a more comprehensive picture of the response of lake biota to anthropogenic stressors, opening up new avenues in the field of paleoecology by unrevealing a hidden historical biodiversity, building new paleo-indicators, and reflecting either taxonomic or functional attributes. Broadly, sedDNA analyses provide new perspectives that can inform ecosystem management, conservation, and restoration by offering an approach to measure ecological integrity and vulnerability, as well as ecosystem functioning.


anthropogenic stressors; climate change; eutrophication; invasive species; sedimentary DNA

Published in

Freshwater Biology
2023, Volume: 68, number: 11, pages: 1799-1817 Publisher: WILEY