Early-20th Century Environmental Changes Inferred Using Subfossil Diatoms from a Small Pond on Melville Island, N.W.T., Canadian High Arctic
Diatom-based paleolimnological studies are being increasingly used to track long-term environmental change in arctic regions. Little is known, however, about the direction and nature of such environmental changes in the western Canadian high Arctic. In this study, shifts in diatom assemblages preserved in a 210Pb-dated sediment core collected from a small pond on Melville Island, N.W.T., were interpreted to record marked environmental changes that had taken place since the early 20th century. For most of the history of the pond recorded in this core, the diatom assemblage remained relatively stable and was dominated by Fragilaria capucina. A major shift in species composition began in the early-20th century, with a sharp decline in F. capucina and a concurrent increase in Achnanthes minutissima. In the last 20 years, further changes in the diatom assemblage occurred, with a notable increase in the Nitzschia perminuta complex. The assemblage shifts recorded at this site appear to be consistent with environmental changes triggered by recent climatic warming.