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Evidence for past variations in methane availability in a Siberian thermokarst lake based on δ13c of chitinous invertebrate remains

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  • M. van Hardenbroek, Institute of Agro-Environmental and Forest Biology, Denmark
  • O. Heiri, Institute of Agro-Environmental and Forest Biology, Denmark
  • Frans-Jan W. Parmentier, Lund University, Department of Hydrology and Geo-Environmental Science, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University, Amsterdam, Denmark
  • D. Bastviken, Department of Thematic Studies e Water and Environmental Studies, Denmark
  • B. P. Ilyashuk, Institute of Plant Sciences and Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, Denmark
  • J. A. Wiklund, Denmark
  • R. I. Hall, Canada
  • A. F. Lotter, Institute of Agro-Environmental and Forest Biology, Netherlands
  • Department of Oral Biology

Understanding past methane dynamics in arcticwetlands and lakes is crucial for estimating future methane release. Methane fluxes from lake ecosystems have increasingly been studied, yet only few reconstructions of past methane emissions from lakes are available. In this study,we develop an approach to assess changes in methane availability in lakes based on δ13c of chitinous invertebrate remains and apply this to a sediment record from a Siberian thermokarst lake. Diffusive methane fluxes from the surface of ten newly sampled Siberian lakes and seven previously studied Swedish lakes were compared to taxon-specific δ13c values of invertebrate remains from lake surface sediments to investigate whether these invertebrates assimilated 13C-depleted carbon typical for methane. Remains of chironomid larvae of the tribe Orthocladiinae that, in the study lakes, mainly assimilate plant-derived carbon had higher δ13c than other invertebrate groups. δ13c of other invertebrates such as several chironomid groups (Chironomus, Chironomini, Tanytarsini, and Tanypodinae), cladocerans (Daphnia), and ostracods were generally lower. δ13c of Chironomini and Daphnia, and to a lesser extent Tanytarsini was variable in the lakes and lower at sites with higher diffusive methane fluxes. δ13c of Chironomini, Tanytarsini, and Daphnia were correlated significantly with diffusive methane flux in the combined Siberian and Swedish dataset (r1=-0.72, p = 0.001, r = 0.53, p = 0.03, and r1\4;0.81, p < 0.001, respectively), suggesting that δ13c in these invertebrates was affected by methane availability. In a second step, we measured δ13c of invertebrate remains from a sediment record of Lake S1, a shallow thermokarst lake in northeast Siberia. In this record, covering the past ca 1000 years, δ13c of taxa most sensitive to methane availability (Chironomini, Tanytarsini, and Daphnia) was lowest in sediments deposited from ca AD 1250 to ca AD 1500, and after AD 1970, coinciding with warmer climate as indicated by an independent local temperature record. As a consequence the offset in δ13c between methane-sensitive taxa and bulk organic matterwas higher in these sections than in other parts of the core. In contrast, δ13c of other invertebrate taxa did not show this trend. Our results suggest higher methane availability in the study lake during warmer periods and that thermokarst lakes can respond dynamically in their methane output to changing environmental conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

    Research areas

  • Chironomids, Chitinous remains, Invertebrates, Lake sediment, Methane, Stable carbon isotopes

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