Chydorids (Cladocera, Chydoridae) have two reproductive strategies: asexual reproduction that prevails during favorable environmental conditions and sexual reproduction that is induced by environmental stimuli associated with seasonal or aperiodic environmental stresses. These modes of reproduction can be recognized in the subfossil sedimentary records as parthenogenetic shells of females (asexual reproduction) and by ephippia (sexual reproduction). We studied the interrelations between subfossil chydorid ephippia and environmental variables by analyzing surface sediment samples obtained from 76 Finnish lakes across a latitudinal gradient (60–70°N). The results showed that the total chydorid ephippia (TCE) increases along the climate gradient from ~2 to 3% in the south to ~25% in the north and suggested a significant dependence (r ~ −0.8, P < 0.001) with several climate factors, especially that of mean July air temperature. We used this relationship to create a model for reconstructing past mean July air temperatures. A linear regression of the log10 transformed TCE as a single independent variable explained 76% (SE ± 0.76°C) of the variance of the observed mean July air temperatures. Accordingly, we propose that this novel tool may be highly suitable for reconstructing paleotemperatures in cold-temperate environments.
Fields of Science
- 1172 Environmental sciences