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Keywords:

  • Arctic;
  • Bathurst Island;
  • Diatoms;
  • Paleolimnology;
  • pH transfer function

Abstract

We examined the influence of catchment geology, specifically differences in buffering capacity, on the limnological characteristics and surface sediment diatom assemblages from lakes and ponds from Bathurst Island, High Arctic Canada. Differences in buffering capacity exist on Bathurst Island due to a geological gradient that spans from carbonate-bearing limestone in the east, to more stable quartz sandstone, siltstone, and shale in the west. We collected physical and chemical limnological data, as well as surface sediment diatom assemblages from nine ponds on the poorly buffered western portion of the island and combined these observations with a previously published dataset of 31 lakes and ponds, from the well-buffered eastern region. The addition of these nine ponds expanded the pH gradient of the existing Bathurst Island dataset (pH 8.0–8.6) to pH 6.8–8.6. A regional, weighted average diatom-inferred pH model was developed and showed strength similar to other Arctic calibration sets (inline image, root-mean-squared-error of prediction (RMSEP) = 0.298). Given the links between climate and pH shifts in the High Arctic, the ability to reconstruct pH should be a valuable tool for future paleolimnological studies.