Chlorophyll a-specific Δ14C, δ13C and δ15N values in stream periphyton: implications for aquatic food web studies
- 1Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 2-15 Natsushima-cho, Yokosuka, Kanagawa 237-0061, Japan
- 2Atmosphere and Ocean Research Institute, University of Tokyo, 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-8564, Japan
Abstract. Periphytic algae attached to a streambed substrate (periphyton) are an important primary producer in stream ecosystems. We determined the isotopic composition of chlorophyll a in periphyton collected from a stream flowing on limestone bedrock in the Seri River, central Japan. Stable isotope ratios of carbon (δ13C) and nitrogen (δ15N) and natural radiocarbon abundances (Δ14C) were measured in chlorophyll a (δ13Cchl, δ15Nchl and Δ14Cchl) and bulk (δ13Cbulk, δ15Nbulk and Δ14Cbulk) for periphyton, a pure aquatic primary producer (Cladophora sp.) and a terrestrial primary producer (Quercus glauca). Periphyton δ13Cbulk and δ13Cchl values did not necessarily correspond to δ13Cbulk for an algal-grazing specialist (Epeorus latifolium). Periphyton Δ14Cchl values (−258 ‰ in April and −190 ‰ in October) were slightly lower than Δ14Cbulk values (−228 ‰ in April and −179 ‰ in October) but were close to the Δ14C value for dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC; −217 ± 31 ‰), which is a mixture of weathered carbonates (Δ14C = −1000 ‰), CO2 derived from aquatic and terrestrial organic matters (variable Δ14C) and dissolved atmospheric CO2 (Δ14C approximately +30 ‰ in 2013). Δ14Cchl values were also close to Δ14Cbulk for E. latifolium (−215 ‰ in April and −199 ‰ in October) and Cladophora sp. (−210 ‰), whereas the Δ14Cbulk value for Q. glauca (+27 ‰) was closer to Δ14C for atmospheric CO2. Although the bulk isotopic composition of periphyton is recognised as a surrogate for the photosynthetic algal community, natural periphyton is a mixture of aquatic and terrestrial organic materials. Our results indicate that the bulk periphyton matrix at the study site consists of 89 to 95 % algal carbon (derived from 14C-depleted DIC) and 5 to 11 % terrestrial organic carbon (derived from 14C-enriched atmospheric CO2).