Ecological turnover in neotropical freshwater and terrestrial communities during episodes of abrupt climate change

Liseth Pérez, Alex Correa-Metrio, Sergio Cohuo, Laura Mac Ario González, Paula Echeverriá-Galindo, Mark Brenner, Jason Curtis, Steffen Kutterolf, Mona Stockhecke, Frederik Schenk, Thorsten Bauersachs, Antje Schwalb

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The last 85,000 years were characterized by high climate and environmental variability on the Yucatán Peninsula. Heinrich stadials are examples of abrupt climate transitions that involved shifts in regional temperatures and moisture availability. Thus, they serve as natural experiments to evaluate the contrasting responses of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. We used ostracodes and pollen preserved in a 75.9-m-long sediment core (PI-6, ~85 ka) recovered from Lake Petén Itzá, Guatemala, to assess the magnitude and velocity of community responses. Ostracodes are sensitive to changes in water temperature and conductivity. Vegetation responds to shifts in temperature and the ratio of evaporation to precipitation. Ostracodes display larger and more rapid community changes than does vegetation. Heinrich Stadial 5-1 (HS5-1) was cold and dry and is associated with lower ostracode and vegetation species richness and diversity. In contrast, the slightly warmer and dry conditions during HS6 and HS5a are reflected in higher ostracode species richness and diversity. Our paleoecological study revealed the greatest ecological turnover for ostracodes occurred from 62.5 to 51.0 ka; for pollen, it was at the Pleistocene/Holocene transition. Future studies should use various climate and environmental indicators from lake and marine sediment records to further explore late glacial paleoclimate causes and effects in the northern neotropics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-36
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
StatePublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding was provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG grants 5448462, 235297191, 252760755, 439719305), Technische Universität Braunschweig, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Swiss National Science Foundation, US National Science Foundation, and the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program. Schenk received funding from the Swedish Research Council (VR 2015-04418).

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2021.


  • Aquatic communities
  • Detrended correspondence analysis
  • Ecological change
  • Guatemala
  • Heinrich stadials
  • Northern neotropics
  • Ostracodes
  • Paleoecology
  • Pollen
  • Terrestrial communities

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags

  • GLAD9


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