This study clarified the centennial-scale changes in meiobenthic bay ostracod assemblages in Japan over the past approximately 3000 years with relation to various human-induced and natural environmental factors. These factors were inferred via integrated multiproxy methods of high-resolution geological analyses of core sediments obtained from a shallow bay off a coastal plain, along with literature surveys of archeological and historical records. Five intervals were defined based on multivariate analyses of ostracod assemblages. The ostracod assemblage was stable before around the 6th century because of aggradational sedimentation related to gradual increases in sea level. Since then, the composite factors such as the development of a sandy spit near the study site, stable sea level, regional tectonics, regional centennial-scale climatic change possibly related to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and flood mitigation by human settlement in the coastal plains triggered the formation of tidal flats and subtidal sandy areas with seagrass beds. This has markedly influenced offshore bay ostracod assemblages since around the 12th century. Anthropogenic impacts, such as reclamation and various artificial constructions since the late 20th century caused the disappearance of seagrass beds, input of coarser sediment into offshore bays, and increased nutrient loads. Therefore, ostracod assemblages have changed drastically. Ostracod assemblages near the boundary between land and sea have been affected by multiple complex factors, such as regional climate and depositional and human-induced processes during the Late Holocene.
Marine Micropaleontology, Volume 165, May 2021,