Articles | Volume 11, issue 22
Research article
20 Nov 2014
Research article |  | 20 Nov 2014

Stable carbon isotope biogeochemistry of lakes along a trophic gradient

A. de Kluijver, P. L. Schoon, J. A. Downing, S. Schouten, and J. J. Middelburg

Abstract. The stable carbon (C) isotope variability of dissolved inorganic and organic C (DIC and DOC), particulate organic carbon (POC), glucose and polar-lipid derived fatty acids (PLFAs) was studied in a survey of 22 North American oligotrophic to eutrophic lakes. The δ13C of different PLFAs were used as proxy for phytoplankton producers and bacterial consumers. Lake pCO2 was primarily determined by autochthonous production (phytoplankton biomass), especially in eutrophic lakes, and governed the δ13C of DIC. All organic-carbon pools showed overall higher isotopic variability in eutrophic lakes (n = 11) compared to oligo-mesotrophic lakes (n = 11) because of the high variability in δ13C at the base of the food web (both autochthonous and allochthonous carbon). Phytoplankton δ13C was negatively related to lake pCO2 over all lakes and positively related to phytoplankton biomass in eutrophic lakes, which was also reflected in a large range in photosynthetic isotope fractionation (ϵCO2-phyto, 8–25‰). The carbon isotope ratio of allochthonous carbon in oligo-mesotrophic lakes was rather constant, while it varied in eutrophic lakes because of maize cultivation in the watershed.

Final-revised paper