The reconstruction of Holocene environmental changes in lakes on the plateau region of southwest China provides an understanding of how these ecosystems may respond to climate change. Fossil diatom assemblages were investigated from an 11,000-year lake sediment core from a deep, alpine lake (Lugu Hu) in southwest China, an area strongly influenced by the southwest (or the Indian) summer monsoon. Changes in diatom assemblage composition, notably the abundance of the two dominant planktonic species, Cyclotella rhomboideo-elliptica and Cyclostephanos dubius, reflect the effects of climate variability on nutrient dynamics, mediated via thermal stratification (internal nutrient cycling) and catchment-vegetation processes. Statistical analyses of the climateediatom interactions highlight the strong effect of changing orbitally-induced solar radiation during the Holocene, presumably via its effect on the lake’s thermal budget. In a partial redundancy analysis, climate (solar insolation) and proxies reflecting catchment process (pollen percentages, C/N ratio) were the most important drivers of diatom ecological change, showing the strong effects of climateecatchmentevegetation interactions on lake functioning. This diatom record reflects long-term ontogeny of the lake-catchment ecosystem and suggests that climatic changes (both temperature and precipitation) impact lake ecology indirectly through shifts in thermal stratification and catchment nutrient exports.