Skip to main content

A ~6000 yr diatom record of mid- to late Holocene fluctuations in the level of Lago Wiñaymarca, Lake Titicaca (Peru/Bolivia)

  • D. Marie Weide (a1), Sherilyn C. Fritz (a1), Christine A. Hastorf (a2), Maria C. Bruno (a3), Paul A. Baker (a4), Stephane Guedron (a5) (a6) and Wout Salenbien (a4)...

A multidecadal-scale lake-level reconstruction for Lago Wiñaymarca, the southern basin of Lake Titicaca, has been generated from diatom species abundance data. These data suggest that ~6500 cal yr BP Lago Wiñaymarca was dry, as indicated by a sediment unconformity. At ~4400 cal yr BP, the basin began to fill, as indicated by the dominance of shallow epiphytic species. It remained somewhat saline with extensive wetlands and abundant aquatic plants until ~3800 cal yr BP, when epiphytic species were replaced by planktic saline-indifferent species, suggesting a saline shallow lake. Wiñaymarca remained a relatively shallow lake that fluctuated on a multidecadal scale until ~1250 cal yr BP, when freshwater planktic species increased, suggesting a rise in lake level with a concomitant decrease in salinity. The lake became gradually fresher, dominated by deep, freshwater species from ~850 cal yr BP. By ~80 cal yr BP, saline-tolerant species were rare, and the lake was dominated by freshwater planktic diatoms, resembling the fresh and deep lake of today. These results reveal a more dynamic and chronologically specific record of lake-level fluctuations and associated ecological conditions that provide important new data for paleoclimatologists and archaeologists, to better understand human-environmental dynamics during the mid- to late Holocene.

Corresponding author
*Corresponding author at: Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, 214 Bessey Hall, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588, USA. E-mail address: (D.M. Weide).
Hide All
Abbott, M.B., Binford, M.W., Brenner, M., Kelts, K.R., 1997. A 3500 14C yr high-resolution record of water-level changes in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia/Peru. Quaternary Research 47, 169180.
Baker, P.A., Fritz, S.C., 2015. Nature and causes of Quaternary climate variation of tropical South America. Quaternary Science Reviews 124, 3147.
Baker, P.A., Seltzer, G.O., Fritz, S.C., Dunbar, R.B., Grove, M.J., Tapia, P.M., Cross, S.L., Rowe, H.D., Broda, J.P., 2001. The history of South American tropical precipitation for the past 25,000 years. Science 291, 640643.
Bandy, M.S., Hastorf, C.A., 2007. Kala Uyuni: An Early Political Center in the Southern Lake Titicaca Basin: 2003 Excavations of the Taraco Archaeological Project. Archaeological Research Facility, University of California, Berkeley.
Battarbee, R., Keen, M., 1982. The use of electronically counted microspheres in absolute diatom analysis. Limnology and Oceanography 27, 184188.
Binford, M.W., Kolata, A.L., Brenner, M., Janusek, J.W., Seddon, M.T., Abbott, M., Curtis, J.H., 1997. Climate variation and the rise and fall of an Andean civilization. Quaternary Research 47, 235248.
Blaauw, M., Christen, J.A., 2011. Flexible paleoclimate age-depth models using an autoregressive gamma process. Bayesian Analysis 6, 457474.
Boulange, B., Aquize Jaen, E., 1981. Morphologie, hydrographie et climatologie du lac Titicaca et de son bassin versant. Revue d’Hydrobiologie Tropicale 14, 269287.
Bruno, M.C., 2008. Waranq Waranqa: Ethnobotanical Perspectives on Agricultural Intensification in the Lake Titicaca Basin (Taraco Peninsula, Bolivia). PhD dissertation, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.
Capriles, J.M., Moore, K.M., Domic, A.I., Hastorf, C.A., 2014. Fishing and environmental change during the emergence of social complexity in the Lake Titicaca basin. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 34, 6677.
Cross, S.L., Baker, P.A., Seltzer, G.O., Fritz, S.C., Dunbar, R.B., 2000. A new estimate of the Holocene lowstand level of Lake Titicaca, central Andes, and implications for tropical palaeohydrology. Holocene 10, 2132.
Cross, S.L., Baker, P.A., Seltzer, G.O., Fritz, S.C., Dunbar, R.B., 2001. Late Quaternary climate and hydrology of tropical South America inferred from an isotopic and chemical model of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia and Peru. Quaternary Research 56, 19.
D’Agostino, K., Seltzer, G., Baker, P., Fritz, S., Dunbar, R., 2002. Late-Quaternary lowstands of Lake Titicaca: evidence from high-resolution seismic data. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 179, 97111.
Dejoux, C., Iltis, A., 1992. Introduction. In: Dejoux, C., Iltis, A. (Ed.), Lake Titicaca: A Synthesis of Limnological Knowledge. Monographiae Biologicae 68. Springer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. xvxx.
Erickson, C.L., 1999. Neo-environmental determinism and agrarian ‘collapse’ in Andean prehistory. Antiquity 73, 634642.
Fritz, S.C., Baker, P.A., Seltzer, G.O., Ballantyne, A., Tapia, P., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., 2007. Quaternary glaciation and hydrologic variation in the South American tropics as reconstructed from the Lake Titicaca drilling project. Quaternary Research 68, 410420.
Fritz, S.C., Baker, P.A, Tapia, P., Spanbauer, T., Westover, K., 2012. Evolution of the Lake Titicaca basin and its diatom flora over the last ~370,000 years. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 317, 93103.
Hammer, O., Harper, D.A.T., Ryan, P.D., 2001. PAST: paleontological statistics software package for education and data analysis. Palaeontologia Electronica 4, 19.
Hogg, A.G., Hua, Q., Blackwell, P.G., Niu, M., Buck, C.E., Guilderson, T.P., Heaton, T.J., et al. 2013. SHCal13 Southern Hemisphere calibration, 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55, 18891903.
Kolata, A.L. (Ed.) 1996. Tiwanaku and Its Hinterland: Archaeology and Paleoecology of an Andean Civilization. Vol. 1, Agroecology. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC.
Krammer, K., Lange-Bertalot, H., 1986. Bacillariophyceae. Susswasserflora von Mitteleuropa. Gustav Fischer Verlag, Stuttgart, Germany.
Metzeltin, D., Lange-Bertalot, H., 1998. Tropische diatomeen in Südamerika I: 700 überwiegend wenig bekannte oder neue taxa repräsentativ als elemente der neotropischen flora. Iconographia Diatomologica 5. Koeltz Scientific Books, Koenigstein, Germany.
Metzeltin, D., Lange-Bertalot, H., 2007. Tropical Diatoms of South America, II: Special Remarks on Biogeographic Disjunction. Iconographia Diatomologica 18. Koeltz Scientific Books, Koenigstein, Germany.
Metzeltin, D., Lange-Bertalot, H., Garcia-Rodriguez, F., 2005. Diatoms of Uruguay. Iconographia Diatomologica 15. Koeltz Scientific Books, Koenigstein, Germany.
Moore, K., Bruno, M., Capriles, J., Hastorf, C., 2010. Integrated contextual approaches to understanding past activities using plant and animal remains from Kala Uyuni, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. In: VanDerwarker, A.M., Peres, T.M. (Eds.), Integrating Zooarchaeology and Paleoethnobotany. Springer, New York, pp. 173203.
Mourguiart, P., Corrège, T., Wirrmann, D., Argollo, J., Montenegro, M., Pourchet, M., Carbonel, P., 1998. Holocene palaeohydrology of Lake Titicaca estimated from an ostracod-based transfer function. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 143, 5172.
Reimer, P.J., Bard, E., Bayliss, A., Beck, J.W., Blackwell, P.G., Ramsey, C.B., Buck, C.E., Cheng, H., Edwards, R.L., Friedrich, M., 2013. IntCal13 and Marine13 radiocarbon age calibration curves 0–50,000 years cal BP. Radiocarbon 55, 18691887.
Roche, M.A., Bourges, J., Cortes, J., Mattos, R., 1992. Climatology and hydrology of the Lake Titicaca basin. In: Dejoux, C., Iltis, A. (Eds.), Lake Titicaca: A Synthesis of Limnological Knowledge. Monographiae Biologicae 68. Springer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 6388.
Servant-Vildary, S., 1992. Phytoplankton: the diatoms. In: Dejoux, C., Iltis, A. (Eds.), Lake Titicaca: A Synthesis of Limnological Knowledge. Monographiae Biologicae 68. Springer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 163175.
Servant-Vildary, S., Roux, M., 1990. Multivariate analysis of diatoms and water chemistry in Bolivian saline lakes. In: Comín, F.A., Northcote, T.G. (Eds.), Saline Lakes: Proceedings of the Fourth International Symposium on Athalassic (Inland) Saline Lakes, Held at Banyoles, Spain, May 1988. Springer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 267290.
Stanish, C., 2003. Ancient Titicaca: The Evolution of Complex Society in Southern Peru and Northern Bolivia. University of California Press, Berkeley.
Stuiver, M., Reimer, P.J., 1986. A computer program for radiocarbon age calibration. Radiocarbon 28, 10221030.
Sylvestre, F., 2002. A high-resolution diatom reconstruction between 21,000 and 17,4000 14C yr BP from the southern Bolivian Altiplano (18–23°S). Journal of Paleolimnology 27, 4557.
Talbi, A., Coudrain, A., Ribstein, P., Pouyaud, B., 1999. Calcul de la pluie sur le bassin versant du lac Titicaca pendant l’Holocène. Comptes Rendus de l’Académie des Sciences, Series IIA: Earth and Planetary Science 329, 197203.
Tapia, P.M., Fritz, S.C., Baker, P.A., Seltzer, G.O., Dunbar, R.B., 2003. A Late Quaternary diatom record of tropical climatic history from Lake Titicaca (Peru and Bolivia). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 194, 139164.
Wirrmann, D., 1992. Geomorphology and sedimentation: morphology and bathymetry. In: Dejoux, C., Iltis, A. (Eds.), Lake Titicaca: A Synthesis of Limnological Knowledge, Monographiae Biologicae 68. Springer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 1622.
Wirrmann, D., De Oliveira Almeida, L.F., 1987. Low Holocene level (7700 to 3650 years ago) of Lake Titicaca (Bolivia). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 59, 315323.
Wirrmann, D., Mourguiart, P., 1995. Late Quaternary spatio-temporal limnological variations in the Altiplano of Bolivia and Peru. Quaternary Research 43, 344354.
Wirrmann, D., Mourguiart, P., de Oliveira Almeida, L.F., 1988. Holocene sedimentology and ostracods distribution in Lake Titicaca–paleohydrological interpretations. Quaternary of South America and Antarctic Peninsula 6, 89127.
Wirrmann, D., Ybert, J.-P., Mourguiart, P., 1992. Paleohydrology. In: Dejoux, C., Iltis, A. (Eds.), Lake Titicaca: A Synthesis of Limnological Knowledge. Monographiae Biologicae 68. Springer, Dordrecht, the Netherlands, pp. 4062.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Quaternary Research
  • ISSN: 0033-5894
  • EISSN: 1096-0287
  • URL: /core/journals/quaternary-research
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed