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Holocene development and anthropogenic disturbance of a shallow lake system in Central Ireland recorded by diatoms

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JournalJournal of paleolimnology
DatePublished - Oct 2007
Issue number3
Volume38
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)419-440
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Three cores from two connected lakes in Central Ireland (Lough Kinale and Derragh Lough) were investigated using diatom analysis to establish the Holocene development of the lacustrine system, any local variations within the lakes and any anthropogenic influences. The study area was situated in a lowland location and the lakes were shallow, unstratified and interconnected. Litho-and bio-stratigraphical analyses of the lake cores and deposits beneath a mire separating the two lakes showed the changing spatial configuration of the lake system in the early Holocene and the separation of the initial lake into three basins (cf. lacustrine cells) and finally into two interlinked lakes. The evolution of the lake system is conceptualised as the development of distinct lacustrine cells, and its sediments have recorded changes in the physical (geography, depth and sedimentation) and chemical (water chemistry) properties of the lakes inferred through diatom analyses. The longest sequence, from the early Holocene, records fluctuating lake levels and these are correlated with geomorphological mapping and surveying of palaeoshorelines. The diatom assemblages of the upper 2 m of the three cores, covering approximately the last 2000–3000 radiocarbon years show considerable difference in trophic status and life-form categories. This is related to the location of the cores in the lake and also the distance from human settlement with particular reference to proximity to crannog (artificial island) construction and use. The most central core from the deepest part of Lough Kinale has the least representation of the human settlement and agricultural activity in the catchment and on the fringes of the lake, whereas the core taken from the edge of a crannog is able to identify when construction and use of the crannog occurred. The local nature of the palaeoecological response to human activity due to incomplete water mixing has the advantage of allowing the lake sediment cores to be used to determine spatially discrete settlement patterns.

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