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Earthquake, floods and changing land use history: A 200-year overview of environmental changes in Selenga River basin as indicated by n-alkanes and related proxies in sediments from shallow lakes

C. Martins, César; Adams, Jennifer K; Yang, Handong; Shchetnikov, Alexander A; Di Domenico, Maikon; Rose, Neil L; Mackay, Anson W; (2023) Earthquake, floods and changing land use history: A 200-year overview of environmental changes in Selenga River basin as indicated by n-alkanes and related proxies in sediments from shallow lakes. Science of The Total Environment , 873 , Article 162245. 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162245. Green open access

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Abstract

The Selenga River basin, located in southern Siberia, is an important component of the Lake Baikal ecosystem, and comprises approximately 80 % of the Baikal watershed. Within the Selenga River basin, two localized study regions were chosen. The first, the Selenga Delta, is one of the largest inland freshwater floodplains in the world and plays an important role in the ecosystem functioning of Baikal. It purifies the river waters before they enter the lake and acts as a refuge for many of Baikal's endemic species. The second location, the Gusinoozersk region, is southwest of Lake Baikal and the Selenga Delta, and was chosen as a more heavily industrialized region within the Selenga River basin. Anthropogenic activities, including industry, urban settlements, aquaculture and agriculture, have historically increased ecological damage within this area. We assessed possible drivers of changes in sedimentary organic matter (OM) composition within two shallow lakes (SLNG04 and Black Lake), located in the Selenga Delta and the Selenga watershed, respectively. We focused on individual n-alkanes, one of the most abundant and common lipids used to provide information on past vegetation and used multivariate statistics to disentangle changes in the sources of sedimentary OM over time. The depositional OM history of SLNG04B core can be divided in four zones: (i) major influence of non-emergent vascular plants, typically found in transitional environments (ca. 1835 to ca. 1875); (ii) increased influence of grasses/herbs (ca. 1880 to ca. 1910); (iii) transition from non-emergent vascular plants and grasses/herbs to submerged and floating macrophytes and phytoplankton (ca. 1915 to ca. 1945); (iv) maintenance of autochthonous OM from submerged and floating macrophytes and phytoplankton (ca. 1945 to ca. 2014). The depositional OM history of the Black Lake core can be divided in two main zones: (i) major influence of non-emergent vascular plants and submerged and floating macrophytes (ca. 1915 to ca. 1980); (ii) increased influence of grasses/herbs and phytoplankton (ca. 1980 to ca. 2010). Natural events (e.g., an earthquake in 1862 caused flooding and subsidence of much of the land surrounding SLNG04 lake and a further catastrophic flood event in 1897) and anthropogenic activities (e.g., nutrient pollution from expansion of agricultural and livestock population) changed the composition of sedimentary OM resulting in ecological shifts across trophic levels in the Selenga River basin.

Type: Article
Title: Earthquake, floods and changing land use history: A 200-year overview of environmental changes in Selenga River basin as indicated by n-alkanes and related proxies in sediments from shallow lakes
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162245
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.162245
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Sedimentary organic matter, Molecular biomarker, sIsoprenoids, Selenga River basin, Environmental changes
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10165739
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