© The Author(s), 2014. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Quaternary Science Reviews 104 (2014): 53-62, doi:10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.07.009.
Fossil long-chain alkenones have been used for several decades to reconstruct past ocean surface water temperatures and gained recent interest as a paleotemperature proxy for continental lake settings. However, factors besides temperature can affect alkenone distributions in haptophyte algae, and alkenone compositions can differ between haptophyte species. Alkenone-biosynthesizing haptophyte algae are genetically much more diverse in lakes than in the marine realm, and species-level variations in alkenone compositions could have implications for alkenone paleothermometry. Here, we performed a paired analysis of alkenone distributions and haptophyte species compositions using ancient DNA in up to 270 ka-old sediments of Lake Van in Turkey to reveal a possible species-effect on fossil alkenone distributions and paleotemperature estimates. The same predominant haptophyte in Lake Van today prevailed also since the last ∼100 ka. However, a calibration of alkenone paleotemperature especially in the oldest analyzed intervals is complicated due to a more complex haptophyte species composition predominated by a haptophyte (LVHap_6), which is phylogenetically different from sequences recovered from currently existing lakes including Lake Van and from haptophyte species existing in culture. The predominance of LVHap_6 coincided with the presence of alkenone MeC38:3 and relatively high MeC37:3/4 (2.4) and MeC38:4/5 ratios (3.0). Uk37 index values in the sediment core over the last 270 ka reflect relative changes in past temperature and are additionally linked to haptophyte species composition. A sustained period of high salinity, as indicated by pore-water salinity measurements, could potentially have triggered the succession of haptophytes as sources of alkenones in Lake Van.
The PALEOVAN drilling campaign was financially supported by the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF grants 200020_143340, 20FI21_124972 and 200021_124981) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (Tübitak).
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