Isotope measurements on chitinous invertebrate remains

The stable isotopic composition of individual lake sediment components, particularly organic remains of invertebrates and algae, can provide information on past environmental conditions in and around lakes as well as on past changes in ecosystem processes within lake ecosystems. We study the stable carbon isotopic composition of organic remains in lake sediment records to provide information on the past importance of methane as a carbon source for aquatic foodwebs, and for reconstructing past changes in the carbon cycle of lakes. Furthermore, we also explore the potential of stable hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen isotope measurements on lake sediment components for reconstructing past changes in lacustrine foodwebs and past climate change. This work was initiated by the ERC Starting Grant Project RECONMET (2010-2014).

Lake Glimmeren
Fieldwork at Lake Glimmeren, Sweden, to measure methane concentrations and obtain sediment samples for C-13 analysis

Recent publications

  • Rinta, Päivi; van Hardenbroek, Maarten; Jones, Roger I.; Kankaala, Paula; Rey, Fabian; Szidat, Sönke; Wooller, Matthew J.; Heiri, Oliver
    Land Use Affects Carbon Sources to the Pelagic Food Web in a Small Boreal Lake
    PLoS ONE, 11(8), e0159900. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0159900 2016.

  • Webb, Megan; Barker, Philip A.; Wynn, Peter M.; Heiri, Oliver; van Hardenbroek, Maarten Reinier; Pick, Frances; Russell, James M.; Stott, Andy W.; Leng, Melanie J
    Interpretation and application of carbon isotope ratios in freshwater diatom silica
    Journal of quaternary science JQS, 31(4), pp. 300-309 2016.

  • van Hardenbroek, Maarten; Leuenberger, Markus; Hartikainen, H.; Okamura, B.; Heiri, Oliver
    Bryozoan stable carbon and hydrogen isotopes: relationships between the isotopic composition of zooids, statoblasts and lake water
    Hydrobiologia, 765(1), pp. 209-223 2016

  • Rinta, P; Bastviken, D; van Hardenbroek, M; Kankaala, P; Leuenberger, M; Schilder, J; Stötter, T; Heiri, O
    An inter-regional assessment of concentrations and δ13C values of methane and dissolved inorganic carbon in small European lakes
    Aquatic Sciences 77 (4):667-680 OCT 2015

  • Schilder, J; Bastviken, D; van Hardenbroek, M; Leuenberger, M; Rinta, P; Stötter, T; Heiri, O
    The stable carbon isotopic composition of Daphnia ephippia in small, temperate lakes reflects in-lake methane availability
    Limnology and Oceanography 60 (3): 1064-1075 MAY 2015

Recent presentations

  • Heiri, O
    Invertebrate remains as indicators of past methane availability in lakes
    40th International Moor Excursion. 6.9.2016, Gerzensee, Switzerland

  • Heiri, O
    Invertebrate δ13C as a proxy for reconstructing past carbon cycling in lakes? Lessons from the RECONMET project.
    Workshop on Stable isotopes in fossils and organic compounds from lake sediment records. 28-29.7.2016, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK

  • Heiri, O
    Carbon isotopic composition of chitinous invertebrate remains: An indicator for reconstructing past changes in methane cycling in lakes?
    Current Topics in Geosciences Seminar series, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel. 20.5.2015, Basel, Switzerland. 

  • Heiri, O
    Environmental impacts on the importance of methanogenic carbon in lake foodwebs: evidence from lake sediment studies
    Aquatic Sciences Division Spring Seminar, University of Jyväskylä, 14-15.4.2015, Jyväskylä, Finland. 

  • Schilder, J; M. van Hardenbroek, P. Bodelier, E.P. Kirilova, M. Leuenberger, A.F. Lotter, O. Heiri
    Productivity changes affect the importance of methanogenic carbon in the food web of a small temperate lake
    ASLO Aquatic Sciences Meeting. 22-27.2.2015, Granada, Spain.



Oliver Heiri, Päivi Rinta, Jos Schilder, Tabea Stötter, Marina Morlock


Markus Leuenberger (OCCR), Paul Bodelier (NIOO Wageningen), Jonathan Grey (Queen Mary University London), Maarten van Hardenbroek (University of Southampton), Roger Jones (University of Jyväskylä), Paula Kankaala (University of Eastern Finland), David Bastviken (University of Linköping), Dan McGinnis (University of Geneva), Beth Okamura (Natural History Museum London), Carsten Schubert (EAWAG), Mat Wooller (University of Alaska Fairbanks)


New SNF project funded to reconstruct climate and aquatic ecosystem processes during the last ice age and preceding interglacial. The project, coordinated by Oliver Heiri, is expected to start in January 2017.

Oliver Heiri is co-convener of session Alpine and polar records of natural and anthropogenic environmental change at the 2016 International Society of Limnology (SIL) Congress, July 31-August 5 2016, Torino, Italy.

Kristy Barnes completed her Fulbright Fellowship at the Aquatic Palaeoecology group in July 2016. She is continuing her studies at the Vanderbilt University Nashville.

Marina Morlock has completed her MSc thesis with the title Stable carbon isotopes of cladoceran and bryozoan remains in Lake Gerzensee: implications for their use to reconstruct past methane abundance. In January 2015 she started as a PhD student in the Quaternary Geology and Geomorphology group of the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research, University of Bern

Tabea Stötter has defended her PhD thesis on January 30 2015. The title of the thesis is Methane-derived carbon in recent and ancient lake sediments - Analyses of lipids and invertebrate remains

Päivi Rinta has defended her PhD thesis on December 12 2014. The title of the thesis is Lacustrine methane cycling in different environments - Observations from a multi-lake survey and a sediment record

Marina Morlock wins poster prize at the 15th Swiss Gobal Change Day, 2.4.2014

Oliver Heiri has been invited to present at the Academia Europaea Annual Congress in Barcelona, 16-18 July 2014

Jos Schilder has defended his PhD thesis on July 11 2014. The title of the thesis is Methanogenic carbon in Daphnia tissue as an indicator of lacustrine methane budgets - observarions from the field, experiments and the fossil record.


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