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Pontic-Baltic pathways for invasive aquatic species: Geoarchaeological implications

By
Ilya V. Buynevich
Ilya V. Buynevich
Geology & Geophysics Department, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, MS 22, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA
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Aldona Damušytė
Aldona Damušytė
Department of Quaternary Geology, Lithuanian Geological Survey, 35 S. Konarskio St., Vilnius, LT-03123, Lithuania
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Albertas Bitinas
Albertas Bitinas
Coastal Research and Planning Institute, Klaipėda University, 84 H. Manto St., Klaipėda, LT-92294, Lithuania
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Sergej Olenin
Sergej Olenin
Coastal Research and Planning Institute, Klaipėda University, 84 H. Manto St., Klaipėda, LT-92294, Lithuania
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Jonas Mažeika
Jonas Mažeika
Radioisotope Research Laboratory, Institute of Geology and Geography, 13 Ševčenkos St., Vilnius, LT-03223, Lithuania
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Rimantas Petrošius
Rimantas Petrošius
Radioisotope Research Laboratory, Institute of Geology and Geography, 13 Ševčenkos St., Vilnius, LT-03223, Lithuania
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Published:
January 01, 2011

An accurate chronology for the exchange of aquatic species between water basins is important for paleoenvironmental reconstruction on both regional and continental scales. During the early Holocene, the range of zebra mussels, Dreissena polymorpha, was limited to the Black, Azov, Caspian, and Aral Seas, as well as the estuaries and lower and middle reaches of the Pontic-Caspian rivers. We present new findings that challenge the currently held view that this species migrated into the Baltic Sea watershed during the early 1800s through the canals joining the tributaries of rivers that drain into the Black and Baltic Sea basins. Geological investigations along the southeast Baltic Sea coast (Curonian and Vistula spits and lagoons) have uncovered shells of D. polymorpha that yielded radiocarbon ages older than 1000 radiocarbon yr B.P. We propose two scenarios to explain the new radiocarbon dates for D. polymorpha. The first scenario involves an anomalously large reservoir effect—as large as 600–800 yr—however, several lines of evidence cast doubt upon the validity of such a large reservoir correction. The second scenario that might explain the old zebra mussel ages is the earlier arrival of Dreissena polymorpha into the Baltic region. Natural exchange may have been facilitated by the proximity of the tributaries draining the Pontic and Baltic watersheds. Human-mediated transport is also considered in association with Viking voyages from the Baltic to the Black and Caspian Seas between A.D. 800 and 1000, and the riverine trade exchange during the Lithuanian expansion into the Pontic steppe in subsequent centuries. It is likely that both scenarios played a role, with implications for late Holocene biogeography and paleoecology of the Pontic-Caspian and Baltic basins.

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GSA Special Papers

Geology and Geoarchaeology of the Black Sea Region: Beyond the Flood Hypothesis

Ilya V. Buynevich
Ilya V. Buynevich
Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
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Valentina Yanko-Hombach
Valentina Yanko-Hombach
Avalon Institute of Applied Science, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and Department of Physical and Marine Geology, Odessa National I.I. Mechnikov University, Odessa, Ukraine
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Allan S. Gilbert
Allan S. Gilbert
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Fordham University, Bronx, New York, USA
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Ronald E. Martin
Ronald E. Martin
Department of Geological Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA
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Geological Society of America
Volume
473
ISBN print:
9780813724737
Publication date:
January 01, 2011

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