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Co-evolution of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem in the Holocene Baltic Sea

Weiss, Gabriella M. and Lattaud, Julie and van der Meer, Marcel T. J. and Eglinton, Timothy I. (2022) Co-evolution of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem in the Holocene Baltic Sea. Climate of the Past, 18 (2). pp. 233-248. ISSN 1814-9332. doi:10.5194/cp-18-233-2022.

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The Baltic Sea experienced changes in marine input throughout the Holocene as substantial regional ice retreat led to isostatic adjustment, eustatic sea level change, and periodic isolation from the North Sea. Here, we determine the distributions and isotopic signatures of organic compounds preserved in a sediment record spanning the last ∼11 kyr to reconstruct environmental change under these dynamic conditions. Carbon and hydrogen isotope ratios of short-, mid-, and long-chain n-alkanes, along with long-chain diol and glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether abundances, were analyzed in sediments sampled from the Arkona Basin in the southwestern Baltic Sea. In the earlier part of the record (specifically 10–8.2 ka), hydrogen isotope values of higher plant-derived n-alkanes revealed a change in dominant water source from an ice-melt-derived to a precipitation-dominated hydrological regime. Following this shift in water source, carbon isotope values of n-alkanes suggest diversification of vegetation. Shifts in hydrology and vegetation did not coincide with established phase boundaries but instead occurred mid-phase or spanned phase transitions. For this reason, we suggest describing the Ancylus Lake in two phases: a meltwater phase (10.6 to 9.2 ka) and a precipitation phase (9.2 to 7.7 ka). Our results highlight the utility of using C and H isotope ratios in conjunction with other compound abundance proxies to better understand the complex environmental change recorded in paleoarchives.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Information
Weiss, Gabriella M.0000-0002-9571-2558
Lattaud, Julie0000-0001-8089-6502
van der Meer, Marcel T. J.0000-0001-6454-1752
Eglinton, Timothy I.0000-0001-5060-2155
Additional Information:© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. Received: 18 Dec 2020 – Discussion started: 12 Jan 2021 – Revised: 22 Nov 2021 – Accepted: 23 Nov 2021 – Published: 04 Feb 2022. We thank Jort Ossebaar and Ronald van Bommel for support with EA-IRMS, GC-MS, and GC-IRMS; Denise Dorhout is thanked for helping with UHPLC analyses. The compound-specific carbon isotope ratios were analyzed at the Climate Geology group of ETH Zurich with help from Stewart Bishop. This research has been supported by the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (grant no. 019.183EN.002). GMW and JL designed the study, extracted samples, conducted isotopic analyses, and contributed equally to writing of the paper with contributions from all co-authors. MTJvdM and GMW collected the samples. GMW and JL designed the study, extracted samples, conducted isotopic analyses, and contributed equally to the writing of the paper. All authors discussed the data and interpretations presented here. MTJvDM and TIE provided guidance on interpretations and assisted with editing the paper.. Data availability. Data for this study can be access through the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) data repository at (last access: 10 January 2022​​​​​​​). The dataset can be directly accessed at the following link: (Weiss et al., 2021). The supplement related to this article is available online at: The contact author has declared that neither they nor their co-authors have any competing interests. Review statement. This paper was edited by Marit-Solveig Seidenkrantz and reviewed by three anonymous referees.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)019.183EN.002
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20220310-752595000
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Official Citation:Weiss, G. M., Lattaud, J., van der Meer, M. T. J., and Eglinton, T. I.: Co-evolution of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem in the Holocene Baltic Sea, Clim. Past, 18, 233–248,, 2022.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:113887
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:14 Mar 2022 19:02
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 19:02

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