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Diatom-Based Paleoenvironmental Reconstruction of Lake Telmen for the Last 6230 Years

N. Soninkhishig*, M. B. Edlund** and J. A. Peck***


The preserved diatom flora in a 14C dated (0-6230 yBP), 343 cm long core sequence from Lake Telmen, Mongolia, was investigated to determine the nature of the lake-ecosystem and watershed response to Late Holocene climate change. Modern Lake Telmen is a slightly saline (presently 4 g L-1) closedbasin lake located along a N-S and E-W aridity ecotone in north-central Mongolia, making it sensitive to climate-driven changes in effective moisture balance. Diatoms were not preserved regularly in two areas of the Lake Telmen sediment record (5380-41 50 yBP and 1050-425 yBP) possibly due to high carbonate preservation; however, diatom preservation between these areas was good to excellent. Diatom-based
paleosalinity reconstruction using species-specific salinity optima from the Northern Great Plains of North America and community analysis suggests the following climate-lake response model during the Late Holocene. From 6230 to 5520 radiocarbon years ago, warm-dry climate resulted in a small salty (20 g L-1) lake in the Telmen basin that was dominated by high salinity indicator species (e.g. Cyclotella caspia, Navicellapusilla, Brachysira aponina). From 3 860 to 1200 radiocarbon yBP, Lake Telmen recorded a period of a modulating climate that resulted in regular fluctuations in paleosalinity from 2 to 4 g L-1 in conjunction with lake level changes. Dominance in the diatom flora fluctuated between the freshwater
planktonic form Cyclotella bodanica var. affinis and the salinity-tolerant benthic taxon Anomoeoneis sphaerophora f. costata during this period characterized by generally more humid climatic periods interspersed with dry-as-present conditions. The most modern samples (0-250 yBP) preserve floristic assemblages similar to those found between 3860 to 1200 radiocarbon yBP and indicate that as recently as 250 years ago Lake Telmen had lower salinity values than modern day.

Keyword: Diatoms,saline lake,paleosalinity,paleoclimate reconstruction


*Department of Botany, Faculty of Biologv, National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar 210646, Mongolia email: Soninkhishig2000@yahoo.com **St. Croix Watershed Research Station, Science Museum of Min