Fossil cladoceran record from Lake Piramide Inferiore (5067 m asl) in the Nepalese Himalayas: biogeographical and paleoecological implications

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Liisa Nevalainen *
Andrea Lami
Tomi P. Luoto
Marina Manca
(*) Corresponding Author:
Liisa Nevalainen | liisa.nevalainen@helsinki.fi

Abstract

We investigated 2500 years of community succession in Cladocera from the sediments of a mountain lake (Lake Piramide Inferiore) located in the Khumbu Valley close to Mt. Everest in the Nepalese Himalayas. Our objective was to determine late Holocene changes in cladoceran species composition and abundance in a biogeographical context and with respect to previous proxy-based paleolimnological data (algal pigments and organic content). The results suggested that cladoceran fauna of Lake Piramide Inferiore was species-poor and dominated by Chydorus cf. sphaericus throughout the sequence. The sediment profile recorded the occurrence of Alona guttata type individuals, which were attributed to Alona werestschagini Sinev 1999 based on their morphology and the species' current distributional range, and this was the first record of its presence in the Himalayas. In addition, a periodic long-term succession of melanic Daphnia (Ctenodaphnia) fusca Gurney, 1907 and non-melanic D. (Daphnia) dentifera Forbes 1893 was observed in the sediments. The millennia-long cladoceran community changes, although subtle due to the C. cf. sphaericus dominance, were in general agreement with the previous proxy-data of lake productivity following the regional paleoclimatic development and apparently partly driven by bottom-up mechanisms. The periodic occurrence and success of D. fusca and D. dentifera throughout the late Holocene in Lake Piramide Inferiore, combined with the knowledge of their phenotypic properties (i.e. carapace melanization) and previous investigations on their contemporary and past distribution in Khumbu Valley, suggested that they may have responded to altered underwater UV radiation regimes. Furthermore, they may have even periodically excluded each other subsequent to changes in the underwater UV environment. The results indicated the usefulness of fossil cladoceran analysis as a tool in biogeographical research, since the occurrence of species in space and time can be observed through sediment records and taxonomic identity of the remains may be resolved with the help of regional faunal distribution. 


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