Holocene regional climate change and formation of southern Ontario's largest swamp inferred from a kettle-lake pollen record

Eunji Byun, Sharon A. Cowling, Sarah A. Finkelstein

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Greenock Swamp wetland complex is one of few remaining natural wetlands in the Great Lakes region and, at 89 km2 in areal extent, is currently the largest hardwood swamp in southern Ontario, Canada. We present here pollen and sediment records from a kettle hole (Schmidt Lake) and adjacent Thuja occidentalis swamp to reconstruct regional paleoclimate and vegetation history, and to assess the timing and development of the swamp ecosystem and associated carbon stocks. Pollen-inferred paleoclimate reconstructions show the expected warming in the Early Holocene, and indicate the Mid-Holocene initiation of lake-effect snow. This enhanced snowfall may have maintained high water tables in the adjacent wetland since ca. 8300 years ago, promoting the establishment of a swamp dominated by Thuja occidentalis. Carbon accumulation rates in a >2-m-long peat core collected from a Thuja occidentalis stand adjacent to Schmidt Lake are 30-40 g C/m2/yr, which is higher than the average of northern high-latitude peatlands. Using topographic and hydrological parameters, we estimated that mean swamp peat thicknesses could exceed 2 m. Thus, this study encourages future investigations on temperate swamps from the perspective of hitherto underestimated Holocene carbon sinks and shows the importance of regional hydroclimate in supporting swamp ecosystems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-74
Number of pages19
JournalQuaternary Research
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Mar 11

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
University of Toronto Connaught Scholarship to EB; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada) Discovery Grants to SAC and SAF.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © University of Washington. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2021.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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