• palaeoecology;
  • sub-fossil chironomids;
  • bioindicators;
  • anthropogenic changes;
  • volcanism;
  • northern Patagonia


  • 1.
    A short sediment core from Lake Morenito was studied to assess the impact of environmental changes on chironomid communities occurring during the last ca 100 yr.
  • 2.
    Lake Morenito (41°S, 71°W) is located 20 km west of the city of Bariloche, in northern Patagonia, Argentina. Before 1960, this lake was a branch of Lake Moreno; by that time, an artificial dam closed the system, establishing the new lake. Another human disturbance that took place during the time span of the core was the introduction of salmonids to the area ca 1910.
  • 3.
    The most important natural events that occurred in the area during the last 100 yr were related to volcanic episodes. One of them, occured in Chile in 1960 affecting the Argentinian side, coincided with the dam's construction.
  • 4.
    Changes in the chironomid community were recorded by studying the sub-fossil remains (the chitinized head capsule of the larvae) present in the sedimentary sequence. The results show that volcanic tephra layers deposited along the core led to a sharp instantaneous drop in the diversity and abundance of chironomid assemblages. Human activities are also associated with a change in chironomid community composition.
  • 5.
    Chironomus reached its maximum abundance values in 1910 and 1960. The organic matter content also increased at the same time. The increase of Chironomus after 1910 is clearly related to an increase in the trophic status of the lake. However, owing to the synchronicity of events in 1960, i.e. the volcanic event and the dam's construction, it is difficult to establish whether the change in the chironomid assemblage was in response to an increase in trophic enrichment, to natural disturbance, or both.

Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.