Organic matter (OM) in lake systems is sourced from in situ aquatic primary production (autochthonous), land based plant primary production or detrital material that ultimately originated from photosynthesis (allochthonous), or resuspension of organic rich sedimentary material that was ultimately sourced from a combination of all such sources. Studying the stable and radioisotopic signature of multiple chemical components of lacustrine OM can help elucidate which of the above is the dominant OM source to the lake, as well as how OM is incorporated into and cycles through lake systems. The high organic content and biodiversity in large lakes of the world make them excellent sites to investigate such questions, and this dissertation focuses on such questions in Lake Malawi (SE Africa), and Lake Superior (North America). In Lake Malawi, the organic carbon (OC) recently deposited (within the last 50 years) is largely dominated by aquatic input, and the influence of terrestrial riverine inputs dissipates as distance from shore and water depth increase. This confirms that parameters typically used to investigate historic lake levels (and thereby to infer past climates) can in fact function as robust indicators of distance from shore, and thereby lake level. This is supported by bulk and compound specific stable carbon isotopic and radiocarbon analysis of multiple sediment fractions. Most fractions exhibited isotopic signatures nearshore that were distinct from more offshore, open-lake locations. In Lake Superior, compound specific nitrogen isotope analysis (CSNIA) of specific amino acids from species occupying all levels of the food chain showed that Limnocalanus macrurus, a copepod, occupies a trophic level much higher than expected from known feeding habits, which may indicate the consumption of additional or unique food sources. Bulk radiocarbon analysis of the same suit of species from that lake showed Diporeia, a benthic amphipod, consumes an aged carbon source that does not appear to be significantly incorporated by other (more pelagic) organisms in this study, which rely primarily upon recently synthesized autochthonous organic carbon.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2014. Major: Water Resources Science. Advisors: Elizabeth C. Minor and Josef P. Werne. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 127 pages.
Kruger, Brittany Ruth.
Sources, cycling, and fate of organic matter in large lakes: ingishts from stable isotope and radiocarbon analysis in Lakes Malawi and Superior.
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