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  1. Holocene climate in the high tropical Andes was characterized by both gradual and abrupt changes, which disrupted the hydrological cycle and impacted landscapes and societies. High-resolution paleoenvironmental records are essential to contextualize archaeological data and to evaluate the sociopolitical response of ancient societies to environmental variability. Middle-to-Late Holocene water levels in Lake Titicaca were reevaluated through a transfer function model based on measurements of organic carbon stable isotopes, combined with high-resolution profiles of other geochemical variables and paleoshoreline indicators. Our reconstruction indicates that following a prolonged low stand during the Middle Holocene (4000 to 2400 BCE), lake level rose rapidly ~15 m by 1800 BCE, and then increased another 3 to 6 m in a series of steps, attaining the highest values after ~1600 CE. The largest lake-level increases coincided with major sociopolitical changes reported by archaeologists. In particular, at the end of the Formative Period (500 CE), a major lake-level rise inundated large shoreline areas and forced populations to migrate to higher elevation, likely contributing to the emergence of the Tiwanaku culture. 
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  2. Abstract

    Tropical lakes harbour high levels of biodiversity, but the temporal and spatial variability of biological communities are still inadequately characterised, making it difficult to predict the impact of accelerated rates of environmental change in these regions. Our goal was to identify the spatiotemporal dynamics of the planktic diatom community in the Cajas Massif in the tropical Andes.

    We analysed seasonal diatom and environmental data over a period of 1 year from 10 lakes located in geologically distinct basins and modelled community–environment relationships using multivariate ordination and variation partitioning techniques. Generalised additive models with a full‐subset information theoretic approach also were used to determine which environmental variables explain single‐species abundance.

    Although the lakes are monomictic and thus have variable thermal structure across the year, seasonal variability of water chemistry conditions was negligible, and seasonal differences in diatom community composition were small. Across space, diatom community composition was correlated primarily with ionic content (divalent cations and alkalinity), related to bedrock composition, and secondly with lake thermal structure and productivity. The ionic gradient overrode the effect of the thermal structure–productivity gradient at the diatom community level, whereas individual diatom species responded more sensitively to variables related to in‐lake and catchment productivity, including chlorophyll‐aand iron, and the proportion of wetlands in the catchment.

    Our results indicate that the spatiotemporal variability of Cajas lakes and their diatom communities is the result of multiple intertwined environmental factors. The emergence of the ionic and thermal structure–productivity gradients in a rather small tropical lake district suggests segregation of ecological niches for diatoms that also may be important in other high‐elevation lake regions. Future studies that track tropical Andean lakes under natural and anthropogenically mediated change, both in contemporary times and in palaeoenvironmental reconstructions, would benefit from the modelling approach (community and species levels) developed here.

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    Abstract. Holocene climate reconstructions are useful for understanding the diversefeatures and spatial heterogeneity of past and future climate change. Herewe present a database of western North American Holocene paleoclimaterecords. The database gathers paleoclimate time series from 184 terrestrialand marine sites, including 381 individual proxy records. The records spanat least 4000 of the last 12 000 years (median duration of 10 725 years)and have been screened for resolution, chronologic control, and climatesensitivity. Records were included that reflect temperature, hydroclimate,or circulation features. The database is shared in the machine readableLinked Paleo Data (LiPD) format and includes geochronologic data forgenerating site-level time-uncertain ensembles. This publicly accessible andcurated collection of proxy paleoclimate records will have wide researchapplications, including, for example, investigations of the primary featuresof ocean–atmospheric circulation along the eastern margin of the NorthPacific and the latitudinal response of climate to orbital changes. Thedatabase is available for download at (Routson and McKay, 2020). 
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  5. Abstract

    Little is known about whether changes in lake ecosystem structure over the past 150 years are unprecedented when considering longer timescales. Similarly, research linking environmental stressors to lake ecological resilience has traditionally focused on a few sentinel sites, hindering the study of spatially synchronous changes across large areas. Here, we studied signatures of paleolimnological resilience by tracking change in diatom community composition over the last 2000 years in four Ecuadorian Andean lakes with contrasting ecoregions. We focused on climate and anthropogenic change, and the type of biological responses that these changes induced: gradual, elastic, or threshold. We combined multivariate ordination techniques with nonlinear time‐series methods (hierarchical generalized additive models) to characterize trajectories of community responses in each lake, and coherence in such trajectories across lakes. We hypothesized that remote, high‐elevation lakes would exhibit synchronous trends due to their shared climatic constraints, whereas lower elevation lakes would show less synchronous trends as a consequence of human density and land‐cover alteration. We found that gradual and elastic responses dominated. Threshold‐type responses, or regime shifts, were only detected in the less remote lake, after a long period of gradual and elastic changes. Unexpected synchrony was observed in diatom assemblages from geographically distant and human‐impacted lakes, whereas lakes under similar broad‐scale environmental factors (climate and ecoregion) showed asynchronous community trajectories over time. Our results reveal a complex ecological history and indicate that Andean lakes in Ecuador can gradually adapt and recover from a myriad of disturbances, exhibiting resilience over century to millennial timescales.

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  6. Abstract

    Lakes and their topological distribution across Earth's surface impose ecological and evolutionary constraints on aquatic metacommunities. In this study, we group similar lake ecosystems as metacommunity units influencing diatom community structure. We assembled a database of 195 lakes from the tropical Andes and adjacent lowlands (8°N–30°S and 58–79°W) with associated environmental predictors to examine diatom metacommunity patterns at two different levels: taxon and functional (deconstructed species matrix by ecological guilds). We also derived spatial variables that inherently assessed the relative role of dispersal. Using complementary multivariate statistical techniques (principal component analysis, cluster analysis, nonmetric multidimensional scaling, Procrustes, variance partitioning), we examined diatom–environment relationships among different lake habitats (sediment surface, periphyton, and plankton) and partitioned community variation to evaluate the influence of niche‐ and dispersal‐based assembly processes in diatom metacommunity structure across lake clusters. The results showed a significant association between geographic clusters of lakes based on gradients of climate and landscape configuration and diatom assemblages. Six lake clusters distributed along a latitudinal gradient were identified as functional metacommunity units for diatom communities. Variance partitioning revealed that dispersal mechanisms were a major contributor to diatom metacommunity structure, but in a highly context‐dependent fashion across lake clusters. In the Andean Altiplano and adjacent lowlands of Bolivia, diatom metacommunities are niche assembled but constrained by either dispersal limitation or mass effects, resulting from area, environmental heterogeneity, and ecological guild relationships. Topographic heterogeneity played an important role in structuring planktic diatom metacommunities. We emphasize the value of a guild‐based metacommunity model linked to dispersal for elucidating mechanisms underlying latitudinal gradients in distribution. Our findings reveal the importance of shifts in ecological drivers across climatic and physiographically distinct lake clusters, providing a basis for comparison of broad‐scale community gradients in lake‐rich regions elsewhere. This may help guide future research to explore evolutionary constraints on the rich Neotropical benthic diatom species pool.

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