Surface sediment samples were collected from the lakes Heihai, Kusai, Haiding Nuur and Yan Hu, and from streams and ponds in the Kunlun Mountains at the northern margin of the Tibetan Plateau to investigate the sub-fossil ostracod (micro-crustacean) fauna of the region. Among 65 collected samples, 46 ostracod shell-rich samples were used to study the relationship between the ostracod distribution and specific conductivity (SC) of the water, which ranged from 0.6 to 53.0mScm-1. A total of eleven ostracod species was identified from this region, with about half of the species restricted to the Tibetan Plateau and its adjacent mountain areas, and the other half representing Holarctic taxa. Tonnacypris cf. estonica and Tonnacypris tonnensis are reported from the Tibetan Plateau for the first time. Leucocythere sp. is the dominant species and Ilyocypris cf. bradyi is also relatively abundant. The other seven species were recorded with limited abundances apparently due to lower SC tolerances. Leucocythere sp. was recorded over the full SC range from 0.6 to 53mScm-1. Eucypris mareotica is a typical brackish and saline water species, which was found at sample sites with high SC (2.8-53.0mScm-1). In contrast, Leucocythere dorsotuberosa, Candona candida and Eucypris afghanistanensis prefer freshwater to slightly oligohaline waters with SC<1.8mScm-1. The SC optimum and tolerance range for each species were determined and compared to earlier reported data from other regions of Central Asia. The results indicate that species assemblage data from fossil ostracod shells have a large potential to provide information on past SC levels and more general climate-determined moisture conditions.
We are grateful to Sun Feifei, An Juan, Hu Jun, Li Jun and Chen Zhichao for help during the fieldtrip. Peter Frenzel and an anonymous reviewer provided constructive and thoughtful comments which helped to improve the manuscript. The research was supported by the National Education Ministry Doctoral Foundation (No. 20100211110020 ), the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the China Scholarship Council (CSC) .