Articles | Volume 13, issue 9
Research article
11 May 2016
Research article |  | 11 May 2016

Importance of within-lake processes in affecting the dynamics of dissolved organic carbon and dissolved organic and inorganic nitrogen in an Adirondack forested lake/watershed

Phil-Goo Kang, Myron J. Mitchell, Patrick J. McHale, Charles T. Driscoll, Shreeram Inamdar, and Ji-Hyung Park

Abstract. Lakes nested in forested watersheds play an important role in mediating the concentrations and fluxes of dissolved organic matter. We compared long-term patterns of concentrations and fluxes of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved organic (DON) and inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in aquatic ecosystems of the Arbutus Lake watershed to evaluate how a lake nested in a forested watershed affects the sources (e.g., production) and sinks (e.g., retention) of DOC and DON in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, USA. We observed no significant long-term changes of DOC and DON in the lake outlet since 1983 and 1994, respectively. However, the temporal patterns of DOC and DON concentrations in the lake inlet showed significant seasonality such as increases during the vegetation-growing season along with notable decreases in the dormant season. A comparison of mass balances between inlet and outlet for the period from 2000 to 2009 suggested that the lake was a sink of DOC (mean of influx minus outflux: +1140 mol C ha−1 yr−1). In contrast, the difference of discharge-weighted DON concentrations (mean of inlet minus outlet: −1.0 µmol N L−1) between inlet and outlet was much smaller than the discharge-weighted DOC concentrations (average of inlet minus outlet: + 87 µmol C L−1). DON fluxes showed considerable variation among years (mean of influx minus outflux: +8 mol N ha−1 yr−1; range of differences: −15 to 27 mol N ha−1 yr−1). DON exhibited low percent retention ((influx-outflux)/influx) (mean: 6.9 %, range: −34.8 to +31.2) compared to DOC (mean: 30.1 %, range: +9.2 to +44.1). The resultant increase of DON within the lake was closely linked with a net decrease of DIN through monthly Pearson correlation analysis, suggesting the importance of biotic factors in mediating lake DON dynamics. Our results show different relative retentions of DOC compared with DON, along with a larger retention of DIN than DON, suggesting that DOC and DON might display substantially different biogeochemical relationships in oligo-mesotrophic lakes nested forested watersheds and therefore different roles for a sink behavior for DOC compared to a producer of DON.

Short summary
Lakes play important roles in controlling organic matter derived from watersheds and within-lake production. The organic matter is normally measured by elemental quantities, such as carbon(C) and nitrogen(N), because the two elements are essential for aquatic ecosystems. We observed an decrease of C, but an increase of N in organic matters in a lake. The reason of the different pattern might be that inorganic N in the lake appeared to be recycled to produce organic N due to within-lake processes.
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