A molecular and isotopic study of sediment cores from a sinkhole lake, Mud Lake, Florida, USA, was performed in order to relate documented changes in the regional terrestrial vegetation and water table over the last ∼5500 years to molecular and isotopic proxies for biological sources of organic matter to the lake sediments. Temporal shifts in the source of organic matter to the sediment, as determined by the stable carbon-isotope composition of bulk organic matter and biomarkers, correspond with previously defined regional scale transitions in forest ecosystems (Quercus to Pinus at ∼5500 14C yr BP and Taxodium expansion at 2500 14C yr BP) and coincident increases in the Floridan water table. The δ13C values for total sedimentary organic carbon showed a shift from terrestrial and aquatic macrophyte sources (-27.8‰, in sediments dated at ∼5400 14C yr BP) within the basal peat, to a cyanobacterial-dominated sapropel (-18.1‰) at the surface. A comparison of the δ13C values of bulk sediment and biomarkers representative of cyanobacterial and algal input (e.g. 7- and 8-methylheptadecane and the n-alkane C17) indicates that the present shallow lake was fully developed by ∼2400 14C yr BP. Differences among the δ13C values of specific biomarkers derived from vascular plants (C29 and C31 n-alkanes and CuO lignin oxidation products) and from cyanobacteria and algae are nearly equivalent in magnitude to the shift recorded in δ13C of TOC, indicating their effective use as source proxies in this system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology