Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 669–697 | Cite as

Responses of Two New Hampshire (USA) Lakes to Human Impacts in Recent Centuries

  • Ronald B. Davis
  • Dennis S. Anderson
  • Sushil S. Dixit
  • Peter G. Appleby
  • Molly Schauffler


This study contrasts the effects of human disturbances on two very different lake/catchment systems: Hatch Pond and Beaver Lake, New Hampshire. Hatch is in a steep mountain catchment remote from urban/industrial centers, and is a small, relatively deep, primarily seepage lake with moderate flushing rate. The catchment has been continuously forested, but disturbed by partial loggings and a forest fire. Beaver’s more extensive and gently sloping catchment is much closer to urban/industrial centers, and has been agricultural and recently suburban. Beaver is a larger but shallower drainage lake with much more rapid flushing than Hatch. We compared the sedimentary records and inferred limnological responses to catchment land uses and air pollution inputs of these mesotrophic lakes, and interpreted differing responses as a function of basic differences between the lakes and their catchments. Some chemical and biological variables in the sediment of both lakes respond sensitively to the first disturbances of the catchments by Euro-American settlers. Diatom-inferred Cl at both lakes indicates a modest increase of salinity at this time. Hatch sediment contains a record of soil erosion starting \(\simeq\) 1810 with first logging and fire. For ~125 years, erosion was largely of upper eluviated soil, but by \(\simeq\) 1935 it reached deeper into the illuviated (enriched) horizon. Maximal lake trophic state based on diatom-inferred limnological variables occurred in the mid-1900’s period of maximum sedimentation of illuviated soil. The sediment record since \(\simeq\) 1964 reflects forest maturation, and soil stabilization and acidification, but not lake acidification. At Beaver, the limnological effects of forest clearance and agriculture starting ~1700 were relatively mild due to gentleness of slopes and soil characteristics favoring stability. A near doubling of earth elements, and major increases in trace metal pollutants and coal combustion particles (CCP) occurred in sediment dating around 1900. Landscape analysis as well as historical and sedimentary records preclude the catchment as the major source of these increases. The most likely source is atmospheric fallout of CCP with its metal load. Despite controls on CCP and other emissions starting 1960, concentrations of earth elements and trace metals in Beaver sediment remain high due to soil mobilization by residential development of the catchment. The trophic state of Beaver Lake has increased, but the relative increase has been smaller than at Hatch, despite more intensive land uses and greater aerial inputs at Beaver. We propose that this lesser eutrophication is due to rapid flushing of Beaver Lake with stream water from relatively undeveloped parts of the extensive catchment, and lower sensitivity to nutrient inputs of this naturally more eutrophic lake. A major shift from unicellular to colonial chrysophytes at Hatch starts in the late-1800’s, and at Beaver in the early 1900’s. Colonial taxa in lesser quantities appear at the time of first settlement of the Beaver catchment. At both lakes the shifts are correlated with increasing metal fluxes from the opening of catchment biogeochemical cycles, as with the aforementioned erosional sequence at Hatch. But at Hatch aerial inputs of trace metals, and at Beaver aerial inputs major and trace metals associated with CCP are also correlated with the major chrysophyte shift. It appears that the chrysophytes have responded to stressors associated with both catchment disturbance and regional atmospheric inputs.


Aerial inputs Catchment inputs Catchment soils Chrysophytes Diatoms Flushing rates Geochemistry Human impacts New Hampshire Paleolimnology 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald B. Davis
    • 1
  • Dennis S. Anderson
    • 1
  • Sushil S. Dixit
    • 2
  • Peter G. Appleby
    • 3
  • Molly Schauffler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of MaineOronoUSA
  2. 2.Environment CanadaNational Guidelines & Standards OfficeOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Department of Applied MathematicsUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK

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