A methodological proposal for the analysis of Cladocera (Crustacea, Branchiopoda) subfossils from sediments of temporary aquatic ecosystems

Abstract The main objective of the present study was to promote some adaptations to the standard methodology used in the analysis of Cladocera subfossils. The samples used in this study were collected at Lagoa dos Coutos, a temporary lake located on an outcrop with iron-rich duricrust in the Serra do Gandarela (Minas Gerais, Brazil). The sediment from this pond, typical of temporary ecosystems in the region, is characterized by rigid concretions that are difficult to dissolve in aqueous media, making it difficult to visualize and analyze subfossils taxa. Sediment samples were prepared according to the standard methodology used in paleolimological studies and the methodological adaptations proposed in the present study, which included the addition of 1 mg of Kochia scoparia, a palynological marker used to estimate subfossil density, as well as the addition of hydrofluoric acid (HF) to oxidize silicate materials. The samples prepared according to the new methodological procedure improved Cladocera subfossil visualization, facilitating the taxonomic analysis of the species. The samples submitted to the standard methodological procedure had a significantly higher mean of sediment particles (mean of 84.2 sediment particles) and 70% more residues compared to the samples prepared with the newly proposed methodology (mean of 22.1 sediment particles). Absolute data on the temporal variation of the density of Cladocera subfossils was obtained by using the palinological marker K. scoparia, which showed higher densities of subfossils in more recent, humid periods (112,000 subfossils/cm3 at 5 cm, equivalent to 3,500 years BP). The results indicate that the new methodology can contribute to advances in paleolimnological studies of temporary aquatic ecosystems, whose lake histories are rarely investigated, despite their ecological relevance as ecosystems that indicate environmental and climatic changes.