Environment International, Volume 133

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Elsevier BV
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Sedimentary DNA reveals over 150 years of ecosystem change by human activities in Lake Chao, China
Feilong Li | Xiaowei Zhang | Yuwei Xie | Jizhong Wang

Understanding the extent and directionality of the impact of human activities on ecosystems is directly related to their management and protection. However, the lack of historical data limits our understanding of ecosystem changes with long-term exposure to human activities. Recently, lake sedimentary DNA (sedDNA) has become a powerful tool for revealing changes in ecosystems at the century and millennium scales. Here, we used sedDNA to reveal the dynamic of the microbial community (including bacteria and micro-eukaryotes) in Lake Chao over the past 150 years, and further explored the effects of long-term nutrient and heavy metal loads on these communities. Our data show that nutrient and heavy metal loads in Lake Chao have increased by ca. 2 to 4-fold since the 1960s. In response, the community structure, diversity, and ecological network of bacteria and micro-eukaryotes changed significantly during the 1960s, the 1980s and the 2010s. Importantly, community structure was more sensitive to human activities than diversity. We also found that the relative abundance of some taxa associated with nitrification and algal blooms (e.g., taxa in Nitrospira sp., Peridinales) has increased ca. 100-fold since the 1960s. Nutrient could better explain the variation in the bacterial community (ca. twice as much as heavy metal), while heavy metal explained micro-eukaryotes better (ca. 3 or 5-fold as much as nutrient). In particular, based on parsimonious models from distance-based linear model (distLM), we further identified that Pb is the key factor affecting the bacterial and micro-eukaryotes community in Lake Chao in addition to nutrient. Our study reveals the impacts of long-term human activities on lake ecosystems from multiple perspectives of nutrient and heavy metal loads, community structure, diversity and ecological network, these findings will contribute to the management and conservation of lakes in the future.