Wildfires lead to decreased carbon and increased nitrogen concentrations in upland arctic streams.
ABSTRACT: The Central Siberian Plateau is undergoing rapid climate change that has resulted in increased frequency of forest fires and subsequent alteration of watershed carbon and nutrient dynamics. Across a watershed chronosequence (3 to >100 years since wildfire) we quantified the effects of fire on quantity and composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM), stream water nutrient concentrations, as well as in-stream nutrient uptake. Wildfires increased concentrations of nitrate for a decade, while decreasing concentrations of dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen (DOC and DON) and aliphatic DOM contribution for five decades. These post-wildfire changes in stream DOM result in lower uptake efficiency of in-stream nitrate in recently burned watersheds. Nitrate uptake (as uptake velocity) is strongly dependent on DOM composition (e.g. polyphenolics), ambient dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), and DOC to DIN ratios. Our observations and experiments suggest that a decade-long pulse of inorganic nitrogen and a reduction of DOC export occur following wildfires in streams draining the Central Siberian Plateau. Increased fire frequency in the region is thus likely to both decrease DOM and increase nitrate delivery to the main stem Yenisei River, and ultimately the Arctic Ocean, in the coming decades.
Project description:In aquatic ecosystems, carbon (C) availability strongly influences nitrogen (N) dynamics. One manifestation of this linkage is the importance in the dissolved organic matter (DOM) pool of dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), which can serve as both a C and an N source, yet our knowledge of how specific properties of DOM influence N dynamics are limited. To empirically examine the impact of labile DOM on the responses of bacteria to DON and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN), bacterial abundance and community composition were examined in controlled laboratory microcosms subjected to various combinations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), DON, and DIN treatments. Bacterial communities that had colonized glass beads incubated in a stream were treated with various glucose concentrations and combinations of inorganic and organic N (derived from algal exudate, bacterial protein, and humic matter). The results revealed a strong influence of C availability on bacterial utilization of DON and DIN, with preferential uptake of DON under low C concentrations. Bacterial DON uptake was affected by the concentration and by its chemical nature (labile versus recalcitrant). Labile organic N sources (algal exudate and bacterial protein) were utilized equally well as DIN as an N source, but this was not the case for the recalcitrant humic matter DON treatment. Clear differences in bacterial community composition among treatments were observed based on terminal restriction fragment length polymorphisms (T-RFLP) of 16S rRNA genes. C, DIN, and DON treatments likely drove changes in bacterial community composition that in turn affected the rates of DON and DIN utilization under various C concentrations.
Project description:Streams and rivers metabolize dissolved organic matter (DOM). Although most DOM compounds originate from natural sources, recreational use of rivers increasingly introduces chemically distinct anthropogenic DOM. So far, the ecological impact of this DOM source is not well understood. Here, we show that a large music festival held adjacent to the Traisen River in Austria increased the river's dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration from 1.6 to 2.1 mg L-1 and stream ecosystem respiration from -3.2 to -4.5 mg L-1. The DOC increase was not detected by sensors continuously logging absorbance spectra, thereby challenging their applicability for monitoring. However, the fluorescence intensity doubled during the festival. Using parallel factor analysis, we were able to assign the increase in fluorescence intensity to the chemically stable UV-B filter phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid, indicating organic compounds in sunscreen and other personal care products as sources of elevated DOC. This observation was confirmed by liquid chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry. The elevated respiration is probably fueled by anthropogenic DOM contained in beer and/or urine. We conclude that intense recreational use of running waters transiently increases the anthropogenic DOM load into stream ecosystems and alters the fluvial metabolism. We further propose that chemically distinct, manmade DOM extends the natural range of DOM decomposition rates in fluvial ecosystems.
Project description:We evaluated differences in the effects of three low-severity spring prescribed burns and four wildfires on nitrogen (N) biogeochemistry in Rocky Mountain headwater watersheds. We compared paired (burned/unburned) watersheds of four wildfires and three spring prescribed burns for three growing seasons post-fire. To better understand fire effects on the entire watershed ecosystem, we measured N concentrations and ?15N in both the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems components, i.e., soil, understory plants in upland and riparian areas, streamwater, and in-stream moss. In addition, we measured nitrate reductase activity in foliage of Spiraea betulifolia, a dominant understory species. We found increases of ?15N and N concentrations in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem N pools after wildfire, but responses were limited to terrestrial N pools after prescribed burns indicating that N transfer from terrestrial to aquatic ecosystem components did not occur in low-severity prescribed burns. Foliar ?15N differed between wildfire and prescribed burn sites; the ?15N of foliage of upland plants was enriched by 2.9 ‰ (difference between burned and unburned watersheds) in the first two years after wildfire, but only 1.3 ‰ after prescribed burns. In-stream moss ?15N in wildfire-burned watersheds was enriched by 1.3 ‰, but there was no response by moss in prescription-burned watersheds, mirroring patterns of streamwater nitrate concentrations. S. betulifolia showed significantly higher nitrate reductase activity two years after wildfires relative to corresponding unburned watersheds, but no such difference was found after prescribed burns. These responses are consistent with less altered N biogeochemistry after prescribed burns relative to wildfire. We concluded that ?15N values in terrestrial and aquatic plants and streamwater nitrate concentrations after fire can be useful indicators of the magnitude and duration of fire effects and the fate of post-fire available N.
Project description:In aquatic ecosystems, dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition is driven by land use, microbial activity, and seasonal variation in hydrology and water temperature, and, in turn, its microbial bioavailability is expected to vary due to differences in its composition. It is commonly assumed that DOM of terrestrial origin is resistant to microbial activity because it is composed of more complex aromatic compounds. However, the effect of DOM sources on the microbial reworking and degradation of the DOM pool remains debated. We performed laboratory incubation experiments to examine how temporal changes in DOM composition influence its microbial biodegradability in two contrasting streams (agricultural and forested) in southern Ontario, Canada. Despite a more allochthonous-like DOM signature in the forest stream and a more autochthonous-like DOM signature in the agriculture stream, we found that biodegradation and production of DOC were the same in both streams and synchronous throughout the sampling period. However, the initial DOM composition impacted how the DOM pool changed upon degradation. During the incubations, both autochthonous-like and allochthonous-like fractions of the DOM pool increased. We also found that a greater change in DOM composition during the incubations induced higher degradation of carbon. Finally, temporal variation in DOC biodegradation and production over time or across streams was not related to DOM composition, although there was a significant relationship between BDOC and nutrient concentrations in the agriculture stream. This observation potentially challenges the notion that DOM origin predicts its bioavailability and suggests that broad environmental factors shape DOC consumption and production in aquatic ecosystems. More research is needed to better understand the drivers of microbial biodegradability in streams, as this ultimately determines the fate of DOM in aquatic ecosystems.
Project description:The spatial distribution of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations and the optical properties of dissolved organic matter (DOM) determined by ultraviolet-visible absorbance and fluorescence spectroscopy were measured in surface waters of the southern Chukchi Sea, western Arctic Ocean, during the early summer of 2013. Neither the DOC concentration nor the optical parameters of the DOM correlated with salinity. Principal component analysis using the DOM optical parameters clearly separated the DOM sources. A significant linear relationship was evident between the DOC and the principal component score for specific water masses, indicating that a high DOC level was related to a terrigenous source, whereas a low DOC level was related to a marine source. Relationships between the DOC and the principal component scores of the surface waters of the southern Chukchi Sea implied that the major factor controlling the distribution of DOC concentrations was the mixing of plural water masses rather than local production and degradation.
Project description:The capacity of bacteria for degrading dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) and remineralising ammonium is of importance for marine ecosystems, as nitrogen availability frequently limits productivity. Here, we assess the capacity of a widely distributed and metabolically versatile marine bacterium to degrade phytoplankton-derived dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen. To achieve this, we lysed exponentially growing diatoms and used the derived dissolved organic matter (DOM) to support an axenic culture of Alteromonas sp.. Bacterial biomass (as particulate carbon and nitrogen) was monitored for 70 days while growth dynamics (cell count), DOM (DOC, DON) and dissolved nutrient concentrations were monitored for up to 208 days. Bacterial biomass increased rapidly within the first 7 days prior to a period of growth/death cycles potentially linked to rapid nutrient recycling. We found that ?75% of the initial DOC and ?35% of the initial DON were consumed by bacteria within 40 and 4 days respectively, leaving a significant fraction of DOM resilient to degradation by this bacterial species. The different rates and extents to which DOC and DON were accessed resulted in changes in DOM stoichiometry and the iterative relationship between DOM quality and bacterial growth over time influenced bacterial cell C:N molar ratio. C:N values increased to 10 during the growth phase before decreasing to values of ?5, indicating a change from relative N-limitation/C-sufficiency to relative C-limitation/N-sufficiency. Consequently, despite its reported metabolic versatility, we demonstrate that Alteromonas sp. was unable to access all phytoplankton derived DOM and that a bacterial community is likely to be required. By making the relatively simple assumption that an experimentally derived fraction of DOM remains resilient to bacterial degradation, these experimental results were corroborated by numerical simulations using a previously published model describing the interaction between DOM and bacteria in marine systems, thus supporting our hypothesis.
Project description:Ocean margin sediments have been considered as important sources of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) to the deep ocean, yet the contribution from advective settings has just started to be acknowledged. Here we present evidence showing that near-surface heating of sediment in the Guaymas Basin, a young extensional depression, causes mass production and discharge of reactive dissolved organic matter (DOM). In the sediment heated up to ~100?°C, we found unexpectedly low DOC concentrations in the pore waters, reflecting the combined effect of thermal desorption and advective fluid flow. Heating experiments suggested DOC production to be a rapid, abiotic process with the DOC concentration increasing exponentially with temperature. The high proportions of total hydrolyzable amino acids and presence of chemical species affiliated with activated hydrocarbons, carbohydrates and peptides indicate high reactivity of the DOM. Model simulation suggests that at the local scale, near-surface heating of sediment creates short and massive DOC discharge events that elevate the bottom-water DOC concentration. Because of the heterogeneous distribution of high heat flow areas, the expulsion of reactive DOM is spotty at any given time. We conclude that hydrothermal heating of young rift sediments alter deep-ocean budgets of bioavailable DOM, creating organic-rich habitats for benthic life.
Project description:Permafrost degradation may lead to mobilization of carbon and nutrients and enhance microbial processing rates of previously frozen organic matter. Although the pool size and chemical composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM) are fundamental determinants of the carbon cycle in Arctic watersheds, its source within the seasonally thawing active layer and the underlying permafrost remains largely uncharacterized. Here, we used 25 soil cores that extended down into the permafrost from nine sites across Arctic Canada to quantify dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and nitrogen stocks, and to characterize DOM optical properties. Organic permafrost stores 5-7 times more DOC and ammonium than the active layer and mineral permafrost. Furthermore, the permafrost layers contain substantial low molecular weight DOM with low aromaticity suggesting high biodegradability. We conclude that soil organic matter stoichiometry and cryogenic processes determine permafrost DOM chemistry, and that thawing will mobilize large amounts of labile DOC and ammonium into Arctic watersheds.
Project description:The metamorphism of snow (snowmelt process) has a potential influence on chemical and physical process occurring within it. This study carried out a detailed study on the variation of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in different stages of snowmelt in a typical mountain glacier located at Tibetan Plateau through collecting four different surface snow/ice categories, i.e., fresh snow, fine firn, coarse firn, and granular ice during May to October in 2015. The dissolved organic carbon (DOC) was observed by lost 44% from fresh snow to fine firn and enriched 129% from fine firn to granular ice, reflecting the dynamic variability in DOC concentration during snow metamorphism. The absorbance properties of each snow category are positively correlated with DOC concentration. The result of excitation emission matrix fluorescence with parallel factor analysis (EEM-PARAFAC) and Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) highlighted the domination of lipid- and protein-like compounds in glacial-derived DOM. The molecular composition of the DOM also exhibited a new N-containing molecular formula (CHON classes) that was enriched during snow metamorphism. This study suggests that snow metamorphism could induce a loss of DOM as well as enrich and modify the DOM.
Project description:Seafloor structures related to the emission of different fluids, such as submarine mud volcanoes (MVs), have been recently reported to largely contribute with dissolved organic matter (DOM) into the oceans. Submarine MVs are common structures in the Gulf of Cádiz. However, little is known about the biogeochemical processes that occur in these peculiar environments, especially those involving DOM. Here, we report DOM characterization in the sediment pore water of three MVs of the Gulf of Cádiz. Estimated benthic fluxes of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and chromophoric DOM (CDOM) were higher than in other marine sediments with an average of 0.11?±?0.04 mmol m<sup>-2</sup> d<sup>-1</sup> for DOC and ranging between 0.11 and 2.86 m<sup>-1</sup> L m<sup>-2</sup> d<sup>-1</sup>, for CDOM. Protein-like components represented?~?70% of the total fluorescent DOM (FDOM). We found that deep fluids migration from MVs (cold seeps) and anaerobic production via sulfate-reducing bacteria represent a source of DOC and FDOM to the overlying water column. Our results also indicate that fluorescent components can have many diverse sources not captured by common classifications. Overall, MVs act as a source of DOC, CDOM, and FDOM to the deep waters of the Gulf of Cádiz, providing energy to the microbial communities living there.