Diatom assemblage response to Iroquoian and Euro-Canadian eutrophication of Crawford Lake, Ontario, Canada

Erik J. Ekdahl, Jane L. Teranes, Chad A. Wittkop, Eugene F. Stoermer, Euan D. Reavie, John P. Smol

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39 Scopus citations


Diatom and geochemical data from Crawford Lake, Ontario, have been used to document limnological responses to periods of cultural disturbance resulting from native Iroquoian occupation of the watershed (1268-1486 AD) and Euro-Canadian agriculture and deforestation (1867 AD-present). Here, we further develop the high-resolution nature of the Crawford Lake sediment record to examine the physical, chemical and biological aspects of limnological response to human disturbances in the lake catchment area with exceptional detail. We report detailed diatom abundance and flux data for individual taxa from Crawford Lake, and further describe the relationship between assemblage composition and environmental conditions using canonical correspondence analysis (CCA). Diatom assemblage data are used to calculate diatom inferred-total phosphorus (DI-TP) concentrations for the past ∼1,000 years. We also examine the diatom community response during and after periods of disturbance by Iroquoian and Euro-Canadian populations, and compare this response to existing geochemical proxies of lake production and new elemental geochemical indicators of catchment area erosion. In particular, we explore the differing limnological response to the two distinct periods of cultural eutrophication and examine the limnological processes that occurred during the period of low (or no) human activity (1487-1866 AD), when geochemical indicators of lake production recovered to pre-disturbance conditions, but diatom assemblages notably did not. Our results illustrate the highly susceptible nature of diatom communities to periods of anthropogenic disturbance, and emphasize that ecological indicators (such as diatom assemblages) should be included with other proxies (such as nutrient concentrations and physical characteristics) when assessing disturbance and recovery in lake systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-246
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007


  • Canonical correspondence analysis
  • Crawford Lake
  • Diatoms
  • Elemental geochemistry
  • Eutrophication
  • Iroquoian
  • Total phosphorus


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