Eight hundred years of environmental changes in a high Alpine lake (Gossenköllesee, Tyrol) inferred from sediment records

Christian KAMENIK, Karin A. KOINIG, Roland SCHMIDT, Peter G. APPLEBY, John A. DEARING, Andrea LAMI, Roy THOMPSON, Roland PSENNER
  • Karin A. KOINIG
    Affiliation not present
  • Roland SCHMIDT
    Affiliation not present
  • Peter G. APPLEBY
    Affiliation not present
  • John A. DEARING
    Affiliation not present
  • Andrea LAMI
    Affiliation not present
    Affiliation not present
  • Roland PSENNER
    Affiliation not present


Documentary and sediment records (diatoms, chrysophyte stomatocysts, plant pigments, carbon and nitrogen, metals and mineral magnetics) were used to reconstruct environmental changes in the high alpine lake Gossenköllesee (Tyrol, Austria) during the last 800 years. The records revealed complex interactions between human impact and climate. Gossenköllesee was predominantly influenced by land-use, which supplied nutrients to the lake. Documentary records report intensive sheep and cattle farming in the area around Gossenköllesee during medieval times. Pigments and chrysophyte stomatocysts indicated high nutrient concentrations prior to ca 1770 AD. First changes in land-use, however, were already detected ca 1670 AD. In 1675 AD the “Schwaighof” near Gossenköllesee, a perennial high altitude settlement, was sold to the Earl of Spaur, and farm management probably changed. After approx. 1770 AD in-lake production was reduced, indicating a decrease in land-use. According to historical records, the perennial settlement near Gossenköllesee was abandoned by at least 1890 AD. Gossenköllesee was also affected by fish stocking. Arctic charr (Salmo trutta morpha fario L.) was introduced into the lake, most probably at the end of the 15th century. A decline in carbon, nitrogen and the pigments alloxanthin (cryptophytes) and astaxanthin (grazers) indicate a significant removal of grazers by fish. Superimposed on human activity, climate changes have also had a significant impact on Gossenköllesee. High productivity during the 12th century suggested by the plant pigment records might have been favoured by temperature increases, indicated by pronounced glacier retreats which began during the 10th/11th century. The “Schwaighof” near Gossenköllesee was sold to the Earl of Spaur when winter temperatures declined substantially in the 1670s. Changes in C/N ratio, iron, manganese and mineral magnetics indicated increased detrital input from the catchment, starting approx. 1670 AD. Erosion and detrital input into the lake intensified during cold periods (1688 – 1701 AD and 1820 – 1850 AD), as indicated by a high C/N ratio, metals and mineral magnetics.


palaeolimnology, multi-proxy approach, land-use, climate, erosion, alpine lakes

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Submitted: 2011-12-09 16:40:37
Published: 2000-09-01 00:00:00
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Copyright (c) 2000 Christian KAMENIK, Karin A. KOINIG, Roland SCHMIDT, Peter G. APPLEBY, John A. DEARING, Andrea LAMI, Roy THOMPSON, Roland PSENNER

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