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Cuadernos de Investigación UNED

Print version ISSN 1659-4266


HORN, Sally P. et al. Initial limnological observations at five small lakes in southern Pacific Costa Rica. Cuadernos de Investigación UNED [online]. 2018, vol.10, n.1, pp.131-146. ISSN 1659-4266.

Costa Rica has hundreds of lakes, many of which have never been described or sampled by limnologists. Here we summarize initial observations of five small (0.2-1.7ha) lakes located at low elevation (365-490m) in the cantón of Buenos Aries. We collected basic limnological data and samples during visits in 2013 and 2014, and compiled environmental and archaeological data for their surroundings as a contribution to the documentation of lake diversity in Costa Rica, and to support parallel investigations of indicators of environmental history preserved in the sediments of the lakes. Lagunas Carse, Los Mangos, Danta, and Ojo de Agua all appear to owe their origin to landslide events, while Laguna Junquillo is an artificial impoundment. Radiocarbon dates on plant macrofossils near the bases of sediment cores from three of the natural lakes provide minimum ages for lake formation; results indicate that Laguna Los Mangos formed over 4 100 years ago, while Laguna Danta formed prior to 1 320 CE and Laguna Carse formed ca. 1 550 CE, near the time of the Spanish Conquest. More than two dozen archaeological sites are located within 1-3Km of the natural lakes, documenting pre-Columbian human occupation and likely use of lake resources. Lake water temperatures and water chemistry were in keeping with observations at lakes throughout Costa Rica. All five lakes are probably polymictic lakes that turn over frequently; none evinced stratification. The surface lake sediments showed similar organic matter content (22,1-28,8%), with values falling near the middle of the range of lakes previously sampled in Costa Rica. Phytoplankton samples included taxa previously reported from small lowland lakes, but differed between lakes and included dominant taxa that were subdominant or uncommon at other lakes surveyed. Our investigation adds to knowledge of lake characteristics and diversity in Costa Rica, and provides benchmarks for assessing future changes in these lakes and their watersheds resulting from human activity, natural disturbances, and regional and global climate change.

Keywords : lakes; limnology; phytoplankton; polymictic; landslides; environmental history; sediments.

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