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  1. Abstract

    We examine major reorganizations of the terrestrial ecosystem around Mono Lake, California during the last deglacial period from 16,000–9,000 cal yr BP using pollen, microcharcoal, and coprophilous fungal spores (Sporormiella) from a deep-water sediment core. The pollen results record the assemblage, decline, and replacement of a mixed wooded community of Sierran and Great Basin taxa with Alkali Sink and Sagebrush Steppe biomes around Mono Lake. In particular, the enigmatic presence ofSequoiadendron-type pollen and its extirpation during the early Holocene hint at substantial biogeographic reorganizations on the Sierran-Great Basin ecotone during deglaciation. Rapid regional hydroclimate changes produced structural alterations in pine–juniper woodlands facilitated by increases in wildfires at 14,800 cal yr BP, 13,900 cal yr BP, and 12,800 cal yr BP. The rapid canopy changes altered the availability of herbaceous understory plants, likely putting pressure on megafauna populations, which declined in a stepwise fashion at 15,000 cal yr BP and 12,700 cal yr BP before final extirpation from Mono Basin at 11,500 cal yr BP. However, wooded vegetation communities overall remained resistant to abrupt hydroclimate changes during the late Pleistocene; instead, they gradually declined and were replaced by Alkali Sink communities in the lowlands as temperature increased into the Early Holocene, and Mono Lake regressed.

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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2024

    The response of aquatic ecosystems in the Sierra Nevada (California, USA) to late Quaternary hydroclimate changes remains mostly unknown. Mono Lake, a large endorheic lake just east of the Sierra Nevada, contains an expanded archive of laminated sediments that can be used to examine the response of benthos to environmental changes. Fossil ostracodes from a radiocarbon‐dated core were used to examine paleoecologic changes from ~16.6 to 4.3k cal abp.Seven species were identified, with the co‐occurrence ofLimnocythere ceriotuberosaandLimnocythere stapliniindicating a large SO42−‐rich lake in the Pleistocene. The Younger Dryas was complex, withFabaeformiscandona caudatareflecting a cold and deep lake ~13.0–12.2k cal abp, followed by an interval of extensive littoral habitat from ~12.2–11.6k cal abp.Ostracode diversity, valves g–1and the ratio of adult:juvenile valves declined after ~10.7k cal abpdue to regression, altered hydrochemistry and seasonal anoxia. Strong seasonality during the Early Holocene is suggested by the presence of reworked ostracodes and macrocharcoal, delivered to Mono Lake by erosion of ancient lake beds in the basin. A depauperate ostracode fauna in the Middle Holocene suggests a strong sensitivity to drought in this ecosystem, which has implications for biodiversity in the future.

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  3. Dam installation on a deep hydrologically open lake provides the experimental framework necessary to study the influence of outlet engineering and changing base levels on limnogeological processes. Here, high-resolution seismic reflection profiles, sediment cores, and historical water level elevation datasets were employed to assess the recent depositional history of Jackson Lake, a dammed glacial lake located adjacent to the Teton fault in western Wyoming (USA). Prograding clinoforms imaged in the shallow stratigraphy indicate a recent lake-wide episode of delta abandonment. Submerged ∼11–12 m below the lake surface, these Gilbert-type paleo-deltas represent extensive submerged coarse-grained deposits along the axial and lateral margins of Jackson Lake that resulted from shoreline transgression following dam construction in the early 20th century. Other paleo-lake margin environments, including delta plain, shoreline, and glacial (drumlins, moraines) landforms were likewise inundated following dam installation, and now form prominent features on the lake floor. In deepwater, a detailed chronology was established using 137 Cs, 210 Pb, and reservoir-corrected 14 C for a sediment core that spans ∼1654–2019 Common Era (CE). Dam emplacement (1908–1916 CE) correlates with a nearly five-fold acceleration in accumulation rates and a depositional shift towards carbonaceous sediments. Interbedded organic-rich black diatomaceous oozes and tan silts track changes in reservoir water level elevation, which oscillated in response to regional climate and downstream water needs between 1908 and 2019 CE. Chemostratigraphic patterns of carbon, phosphorus, and sulfur are consistent with a change in nutrient status and productivity, controlled initially by transgression-driven flooding of supralittoral soils and vegetation, and subsequently with water level changes. A thin gravity flow deposit punctuates the deepwater strata and provides a benchmark for turbidite characterization driven by hydroclimate change. Because the Teton fault is a major seismic hazard, end-member characterization of turbidites is a critical first step for accurate discrimination of mass transport deposits controlled by earthquakes in more ancient Jackson Lake strata. Results from this study illustrate the influence of dam installation on sublacustrine geomorphology and sedimentation, which has implications for lake management and ecosystem services. Further, this study demonstrates that Jackson Lake contains an expanded, untapped sedimentary archive recording environmental changes in the American West. 
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