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Research article2021Peer reviewed

Food availability and temperature optima shaped functional composition of chironomid assemblages during the Late Glacial-Holocene transition in Northern Europe

Stivrins, Normunds; Belle, Simon; Trasune, Liva; Blaus, Ansis; Salonen, Sakari


Non-biting midges (Chironomidae) are the most diverse and abundant invertebrate group in boreal lakes and are strongly responsive to climate change, thus they are a valuable palaeoecological proxy for studying aquatic biodiversity response in the face of climate change. Here, we aim to decipher the influence of climate-induced changes on temporal patterns in chironomid assemblages. We apply a novel approach combining traditional taxon-based analysis and species-trait framework to subfossil chironomid assemblages in a sediment core covering the Late Glacial-Holocene transition in Northern Europe. We produce pollen-based July and January temperature reconstructions to characterize past climate fluctuations that show a distinct Early Holocene warming for continuous 1700 years with considerably greater warming in winter (ca. 10 degrees C) than summer (ca. 4 degrees C) temperature. Overall, chironomid taxonomic changes were mainly induced by the temperature tolerances and optima of species, as temporal dynamics showed agreement with temperature reconstructions. Our results suggest that vegetation dynamics could also play a role in structuring chironomid assemblages by selecting taxa with the highest ability to exploit available food resources, thus potentially confounding chironomid-based summer climate reconstructions. We demonstrate that the study of the hidden chironomid functional composition could help to identify secondary drivers and thus strengthen the reliability of climate reconstruction based on subfossil chironomids. (C) 2021 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Traits; Biodiversity; Climate change; Climate reconstruction; Baltic; Lake

Published in

Quaternary Science Reviews
2021, Volume: 266, article number: 107083

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Climate Research
    Physical Geography

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