A rapid response of testate amoebae and vegetation to inundation of a kettle hole mire
Our palaeoecological study covers 73 years of history (1929-2002) of a kettle hole peatland inundated by water from a nearby, dammed lake. Testate amoebae, pollen and non-pollen palynomorphs (NPPs) were used to track the shift to wetter conditions in the peatland. Lead-210 was used to try and construct the chronology. We investigated how peatland testate amoebae communities changed since the damming of a nearby river. Furthermore, we evaluated how rapidly local vegetation responded to the increase in wetness, and how vegetation changes correlated with shifts in testate amoebae and NPPs. The Mukrza kettle hole provided palaeoecological evidence of trophic state and hydrological changes since the lake filled with water in 1929. Three stages of development were revealed. The first two were associated with initial inundation, and the third was related to Sphagnum expansion and acidification. Quantitative reconstruction of groundwater level and pH, inferred using testate amoebae, confirmed our hypotheses about changes in hydrology and trophic state. Subfossil desmid remains lend qualitative support to the reconstruction. The ecology of several testate amoeba taxa is discussed in the context of succession and population establishment. There was complete species replacement since the time of inundation. Our investigation has two important applied aspects: (1) it enables prediction of the response of peatlands to a rise in water table on restored sites; and (2) it provides analogues for palaeoclimatological studies. The history of the Mukrza mire is an example of how palaeoecological studies can be used to assess the degree of change in peatlands transformed by human activities.