eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1952
Earth Science cover
Estonian Journal of Earth Sciences
ISSN 1736-7557 (Electronic)
ISSN 1736-4728 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 0.789

Palaeolimnological assessment of environmental change over the last two centuries in oligotrophic Lake Nohipalu Valgjärv, southern Estonia; pp. 124–132

Full article in PDF format | doi:10.3176/earth.2009.2.03

Atko Heinsalu, Tiiu Alliksaar


The main objectives of this study were to reconstruct the environmental conditions for a small oligotrophic lake during the last two centuries, to determine if the environment of the lake was anthropogenically mediated, and to assess the pre-impact reference conditions with palaeolimnological techniques. A short sediment core from Lake Nohipalu Valgjärv was analysed in detail for diatom assemblages as well as for loss-on-ignition measurements. Accurate chronology of the sediment core was established and evaluated by different independent approaches – 210Pb, 137Cs, and 241Am dating, and the distribution of spheroidal fly-ash particles in sediments. Quantitative inference models based on sedimentary diatoms were applied to reconstruct changes in past lake water pH. Before the mid-19th century, Nohipalu Valgjärv was an oligotrophic lake with clear water continuously transparent down to the bottom and with rich benthic diatom flora. Since the early second half of the 19th century, presumably as a result of forest logging around the lake, water transparency decreased and benthic diatom productivity diminished, and the lake did not recover any more to natural baseline conditions. Due to peat mining activities in the Meenikunno bog, the quality of lake water has changed during the last two decades. The lowered lake level, deteriorated light climate, and decreased pH are the most important environmental variables that have influenced the lake ecosystem.


Appleby, P. G. & Oldfield, F. 1978. The calculation of lead‑210 dates assuming a constant rate of supply of unsupported 210Pb to the sediment. Catena, 5, 1-8.

Appleby, P. G., Nolan, P. J., Gifford, D. W., Godfrey, M. J., Oldfield, F., Anderson, N. J. & Battarbee, R. W. 1986. 210Pb dating by low background gamma counting. Hydrobiologia, 141, 21–27.

Battarbee, R. W., Charles, D. F., Dixit, S. S. & Renberg, I. 1999. Diatoms as indicators of surface water acidity. In The Diatoms: Application for the Environmental and Earth Sciences(Stoermer, E. F. & Smol, J. P., eds), pp. 85-127. University Press, Cambridge.

Battarbee, R. W., Juggins, S., Gasse, F., Anderson, N. J., Bennion, H. & Cameron, N. G. 2000. European Diatom Database (EDDI). An information system for palaeo­environmental reconstruction. In European Climate Science Conference, Vienna City Hall, Vienna, Austria, 19.–23. October 1998, pp. 1–10.

Battarbee, R., Jones, V. J., Flower, R. J., Cameron, N. G., Bennion, H., Carvalho, L. & Juggins, S. 2001. Diatoms. In Tracking Environmental Change Using Lake Sediments. Volume 3: Terrestrial, Algal, and Siliceous Indicators (Smol, J. P., Birks, H. J. B. & Last, W. M., eds), pp. 155–202. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

Bennion, H. & Battarbee, R. 2007. The European Union Water Framework Directive: opportunities for palaeo­limnology. Journal of Paleolimnology, 38, 285-295.

Birks, H. J. B., Line, J. M., Juggins, S., Stevenson, A. C. & ter Braak, C. J. F. 1990. Diatoms and pH reconstruction. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society London,B 327, 263-278.

[EC] European Community. 2000. Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy. Official Journal of the European Communities, L 327, 1–71.

Heinsalu, A., Alliksaar, T., Leeben, A. & Nõges, T. 2007. Sediment diatom assemblages and composition of pore-water dissolved organic matter reflect recent eutrophi­cation history of Lake Peipsi (Estonia/Russia). Hydro­biologia, 584, 133-143.

Heiri, O., Lotter, A. F. & Lemcke, G. 2001. Loss on ignition as a method for estimating organic and carbonate content in sediments: reproducibility and comparability of results. Journal of Paleolimnology, 25, 101–110.

Korhola, A., Virkanen, J., Tikkanen, M. & Blom, T. 1996. Fire-induced pH rise in a naturally acid hill-top lake, southern Finland: a palaeoecological survey. Journal of Ecology, 84, 257-265.

Mäemets, A. (ed.). 1968. Eesti järved [Estonian Lakes]. Valgus, Tallinn, 548 pp. [in Estonian, with English summary].

Mäemets, A. 1974. On Estonian lake types and main trends of their evolution. In Estonian Wetlands and their Life, Estonian Contributions to the International Biological Programme No. 7, pp. 29-62. Valgus, Tallinn.

Mäemets, A. 1977. Eesti NSV järved ja nende kaitse [Lakes of the Estonian S.S.R. and their protection]. Valgus, Tallinn, 263 pp. [in Estonian, with English summary].

Mäemets, H. & Freiberg, L. 2007. Coverage and depth limit of macrophytes as tools for classification of lakes. Proceedings of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, Biology, Ecology, 56, 124-140.

Nõges, T., Alliksaar, T., Heinsalu, A. & Nõges, P. 2006. A paleolimnological assessment of recent eutrophication history on large inland water body, Lake Peipsi, Estonia. Verhandlungen der Internationalen Vereinigung für Theoretische und Angewandte Limnologie, 29, 1135-1138.

Ott, I. 2005. Phytoplankton as a tool to classify ecological status of lakes. Estonian experiences. In Sampling. Presentations on Three Training Seminars about Quality Assurance, Biological Methods of Water Framework Directive and Waste Water Sampling Techniques (Lääne, A. & Heinonen, P., eds), Suomen Ympäristökeskus, 328, 48-56.

Ott, I. 2006. Some principles of ecological quality classification in Estonian lakes. In Proceedings of the 21th Meeting of the ICP waters programme Task Force in Tallinn, Estonia, October 17–19, 2005 (de Wit, H. & Skjelkvale, B. L., eds), Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 84/2006, 8-14.

Ott, I. & Kõiv, T. 1999. Estonian Small Lakes: Special Features and Changes. Estonian Environment Information Centre, Estonian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Zoology and Botany of the Estonian Agricultural University, Tallinn, 128 pp.

Poska, A., Sepp, E., Veski, S. & Koppel, K. 2008. Using pollen based quantitative land-cover estimations and CA_Markov model to reconstruct the development of cultural landscape at Rõuge, South Estonia. Vegetation History and Archaeobotany, 17, 527-541.

Realo, E., Jõgi, J., Koch, R. & Realo, K. 1995. Studies on radiocaesium in Estonian soils. Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 29, 111–119.

Renberg, I., Korsman, T. & Birks, H. J. B. 1993. Prehistoric increases in the pH of acid-sensitive Swedish lakes caused by land-use changes. Nature, 362, 824-826.

Rose, N. L. 1990. A method for the selective removal of inorganic ash particles from lake sediments. Journal of Paleolimnology, 4, 61-68.

Stevenson, A. C., Juggins, S., Birks, H. J. B., Anderson, D. S., Anderson, N. J., Battarbee, R. W., Berge, F., Davis, R. B., Flower, R. J., Haworth, E. Y., Jones, V. J., Kingston, J. C., Kreiser, A. M., Line, J. M., Munro, M. A. R. & Renberg, I. 1991. The Surface Waters Acidification Project Palaeo­limnology Programme: Modern Diatom/Lake-Water Chemistry Data-Set. ENSIS Publishing, London, 86 pp.

Tamre, R. (ed.). 2006. Eesti järvede nimestik [List of Estonian Lakes]. Keskkonnaministeeriumi Info- ja Tehnokeskus, Tallinn, 165 pp. [in Estonian].

ter Braak, C. J. F. & Juggins, S. 1993. Weighted averaging partial least squares regression (WA-PLS): an improved method for reconstructing environmental variables from species assemblages. Hydrobiologia, 269/270, 485–502.

Veski, S., Koppel, K. & Poska, A. 2005. Integrated palaeo­ecological and historical data in the service of fine-resolution land use and ecological change assessment during the last 1000 years in Rõuge, S Estonia. Journal of Biogeography, 32, 1473-1488.

Back to Issue