Ostracode stratigraphy and paleoecology from surficial sediments of Lake Tanganyika, Africa

T. M. Wells, A. S. Cohen, L. E. Park, D. L. Dettman, B. A. McKee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We report here on the first detailed ostracode stratigraphic record to be obtained from late Holocene sediments of Lake Tanganyika. We analyzed four cores, three from the northern lake region and a fourth from a more southern lake locality, that collectively record ostracode assemblages under a variety of disturbance regimes. These cores provide a stratigraphic record of ostracode abundance and diversity, as well as depositional changes over time periods of decades to millennia. We have investigated the fossil ostracodes in these cores by looking at temporal changes of species diversity and population structure for the species present. All four cores provided distinct patterns of ostracode diversity and abundance. BUR-1, a northern lake core obtained close to the Ruisizi River delta, yielded a sparse ostracode record. Karonge 3, another northern core from a site that is closely adjacent to a river delta with high sediment loading, yielded almost no ostracodes. The third core 86-DG-14, taken from a somewhat less disturbed area of the lake, suggests that there have been recent changes in ostracode populations. Through most of the lower portion of this core, ostracode abundance is low and species richness is relatively constant. Above 7 cm there is a marked increase in ostracode abundance and a corresponding decrease in species richness, probably signaling the onset of a major community disturbance, perhaps due to human activities. The southernmost core, 86-DG-32, is from a site that is well removed from influent rivers. Ostracode abundance varies erratically throughout the core, whereas species richness is relatively constant and high throughout the core. The temporal variation evident in ostracode community makeup both within and between the studied cores may be a result of naturally patchy distributions among ostracodes, coupled with local extinctions and recolonizations, or it may reflect inadequate sampling of these high diversity assemblages. In either case, these cores illustrate the potential to obtain high resolution ostracode records from the rich, endemic fauna of Lake Tanganyika that can be used to address questions about the history of community structure and human impacts in this lake.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-276
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999


  • Africa
  • Lake Tanganyika
  • Ostracodes
  • Paleoecology
  • Sediment core

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'Ostracode stratigraphy and paleoecology from surficial sediments of Lake Tanganyika, Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this