Abstract

We report on exquisitely preserved specimens of freshwater siliceous algae belonging to the classes Synurophyceae (scaled chrysophytes) and Bacillariophyceae (diatoms) from middle Eocene lake sediments in Northern Canada. When considered in the context of closest extant relatives, these microfossils present unequivocal biogeographic and ecological affinities with warm-water ochrophyte assemblages. We have identified scales that are unambiguously assigned to Mallomonas bangladeshica, a chrysophyte now restricted to tropical lake ecosystems. The diatom genus Actinella is also well represented in these sediments, again with the most comparable extant congeners found in tropical to subtropical localities, particularly in the Southern Hemisphere. We surmise that fundamental biogeographic reorganizations among lacustrine algae took place during Eocene hothouse paleoclimates. In this light, future climate warming should be viewed as a potent vector for similar community shifts, with attendant limnological implications.

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