The C:N ratios of lake sediments may reflect proportions of terrestrial and algal carbon contributing to accumulation of sediment. This possibility was tested in Lake Pleasant, Massachussetts, USA which underwent watershed deforestation in about 1780 A.D. The C:N profile of a 70-cm sediment core clearly reflected deforestation through a rise in C:N ratio caused by an increase in watershed contributions to sedimentary carbon. Spatial variability of C:N in modern surficial sediments is small compared to the change caused by deforestation.
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