Charophyte growth in small temperate water bodies: Extreme isotopic disequilibrium and implications for the palaeoecology of shallow marl lakes

Allan Pentecost, Julian E. Andrews, Paul F. Dennis, Alina Marca-Bell, Sarah Dennis

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44 Citations (Scopus)


A small pond containing the charophyte Chara hispida was monitored over a one-year period for changes in growth, water chemistry, water level and stable isotopic composition. Chara growth was found to be seasonal, with maximum growth occurring from late April to July. During this period, pH rose to > 10 while the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and calcium fell as a result of photosynthesis and calcification. Large gradients in pH, water temperature and irradiance were found within the Chara sward and measurements showed that most growth and photosynthesis occurred within the upper 20 cm of the water column. Chara oospore formation was also found to be seasonal but dependent upon environmental conditions. d18Ow rose rapidly during summer as evaporation progressed and this was correlated with the d18ODIC, and to some extent with d18Oc of the Chara encrusted calcite. However, extreme isotopic disequilibrium was observed between the d18Oc and the d18Ow and also between the d13Cc and the d13CDIC. This arose from the high pH allowing atmospheric CO2 to enter the water and combine directly with OH-. It is concluded that, within shallow eutrophic lakes containing Chara swards, inferences of climate (e.g. air temperature) cannot be made from observations of the isotopic composition of Chara carbonates. However in combination with other geochemical data, disequilibrium events may be identifiable in ancient lake basins and taken as evidence for lake shallowing and/or eutrophication.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-404
Number of pages16
JournalPalaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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