The late glacial – early Holocene transition is a key period in the earth’s history. However, although this transition is well studied in Europe, it is not well constrained in the Middle East and palaeohydrological records with robust chronologies remain scarce from this region. Here we present an interesting hydrobiological record showing a major environmental change occurring in the Dasht-e Arjan Wetland (southwestern Iran, near to Persepolis) during the late glacial – early Holocene transition (ca. 11 650 years cal BP). We use subfossil chironomids (Insecta: Diptera) as a proxy for hydrological changes and to reconstruct lake-level fluctuations. The Arjan wetland was a deep lake during the Younger Dryas marked by a dominance of Chironomus plumosus/anthracinus-type, taxa adapted to anoxic conditions of deep waters. At the beginning of the Holocene, a drastic decrease (more than 80% to less than 10%) of Chironomus plumosus/anthracinus-type, combined with diversification of littoral taxa such as Polypedilum nubeculosum-type, Dicrotendipes nervosus-type, and Glyptotendipes pallens-type, suggests a lake-level decrease and a more vegetalized aquatic environment. We compare and contrast the chironomid record of Arjan with a similar record from northwestern Iran. The palaeoclimatic significance of the record, at a local and regional scale, is subsequently discussed. The increase in Northern Hemisphere temperatures, inferred by geochemical data from NGRIP, at the beginning of the Holocene best explains the change from the Younger Dryas highstand to early Holocene lowstand conditions in the Dasht-e Arjan wetland. However, a contribution of the meltwater inflow from small local glaciers in the catchment basin is not excluded.

You do not currently have access to this article.