Investigating the impact of climate change on the lake ecosystem during the late Holocene using a sedimentary record from the southern Arabian Desert, Yemen

Shah Parth, Yadav Ankit, Sonja Rigterink, Ilaria Mazzini, James Russell, Ambili Anoop, Nicolas Waldmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lake systems respond physically, chemically, and biologically to hydro-climatic change and variability, and these responses are documented in the sediments. Individual proxies and lacustrine environments may respond to climate variations in a nonlinear way, making it difficult to determine the direction and extent of a climatic shift. Here we investigate the response of lake ecosystem to climatic and environmental changes using a suite of paleo-proxies including ostracods, chironomids, and n-alkanes distribution from paleolake ‘Gayal el Bazal (Yemen)’. A previous study from this site has provided a continuous, and high-resolution dataset providing an understanding of precipitation during the last ca 1200 years, particularly during Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and Little Ice Age (LIA). However, the response of the lake ecosystem to these changing hydro-climate conditions, including water-level, salinity, and productivity, remains unknown. The n-alkanes dataset shows that during pluvial interval such as the MCA, the lake experienced an increase in nutrient input resulting in enhanced aquatic productivity. Concurrently, ostracods assemblage displays an increased abundance of swimmer species (like Bradleytriebella lineata and Fabaeomiscandona cf. breuili), suggesting an indirect response between ostracods and climate shifts. The chironomid community during the MCA interval is dominated by taxa belonging to the subfamilies of Chironomini, suggesting a warm, shallow, productive environment with macrophyte vegetation. The LIA interval is marked by increased abundance of higher-chain length n-alkanes, suggesting increased contribution from higher plants. Furthermore, ostracod distribution revealed increased abundance of non-swimmer species like Vestalenula cylindrica., which thrive under saline conditions in the lake. Changes in abundances of Tanytarsini during the LIA interval, which are associated with higher oxygen levels, suggest changes in lake productivity. As a result, the overall patterns in biological indicators reveal that their individual abundance and species/tribe distribution fluctuates in response to changes in the climate and hydrological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number165835
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 25 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors


  • Bioindicators
  • Chironomids
  • Lake sediments
  • Late Holocene
  • n-alkanes
  • Ostracods

Continental Scientific Drilling Facility tags


PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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