Distribution of dinoflagellate cysts in surface sediments of the Mackenzie Shelf and Amundsen Gulf, Beaufort Sea (Canada)
In order to document long-term climate cycles and predict future climate trends for the Arctic, we need to look at the geological records to establish the link between historical and pre-historical sea-surface parameters. Dinoflagellate cysts (dinocysts) are used as proxy indicators of sea-surface parameters (temperature, salinity, sea-ice cover, primary productivity) jointly with transfer functions and a modern dinocyst reference database, to reconstruct the evolution of sea-surface conditions at decadal and millennial timescales. Here we present the surface distribution of recent dinocyst assemblages from 34 surface sediment samples collected on the Mackenzie Slope/Amundsen Gulf during the 2004 CASES (Canadian Arctic Shelf Exchange Study) cruise. Dinocyst concentrations in surface sediments are relatively high outside the Mackenzie plume area and increase gradually eastward toward Amundsen Gulf. The cysts of autotrophic dinoflagellates are dominant throughout the study area, while the maximum abundance of heterotrophic taxa is found within the Mackenzie plume. Hierarchical clustering analyses allowed defining two dinocyst assemblages. Assemblage I is located on the Mackenzie Slope and southern Amundsen Gulf, while Assemblage II is located within the Cape Bathurst Polynya area in northern Amundsen Gulf. Both assemblages are dominated by Operculodinium centrocarpum, but are distinguished on the basis of the relative abundance of Islandinium minutum, a taxon generally associated with sea ice. I. minutum is found in lower abundance in the Cape Bathurst Polynya.