Sources of organic and inorganic carbon in a headwater stream: Evidence from carbon isotope studies

S. M. Palmer, D. Hope, M. F. Billett, Julian James Charles Dawson, C. L. Bryant

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    Abstract

    A combination of stable isotope studies and C-14 dating were used to identify the main sources and processes controlling streamwater DOC and TIC in a temperate non-forested watershed. delta C-13 values for terrestrial (-24.9 to -29.1 parts per thousand) and aquatic (-30.5 to -33.5 parts per thousand) plants were similar to values reported in the literature for similar ecosystems. delta C-13 values for DOC in soil solution and streamwater were consistent with soil and terrestrial vegetation, indicating that the terrestrial ecosystem is the dominant source of aquatic DOC in this watershed. delta C-13 values of soil atmosphere CO2 (-17.2 to -25.2 parts per thousand) were slightly less negative than would be expected for production via aerobic soil microbial decomposition and root respiration. There was a close correspondence between delta C-13 values (-15.5 to -21.5 parts per thousand) for streamwater TIC and soil atmospheric CO2 in the central part of the catchment where the stream drains CO2-rich peats. C-14 dating showed that although peat has been accumulating in the watershed for at least 2700 years, DOC in soil pore water and streamwater contains carbon of predominantly recent origin (post-AD 1955).

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)321-338
    Number of pages17
    JournalBiogeochemistry
    Volume52
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

    Keywords

    • C-14
    • delta C-13
    • inorganic carbon
    • organic carbon
    • peat
    • streamwater
    • PRECAMBRIAN SHIELD
    • SOIL
    • MATTER
    • DYNAMICS
    • ONTARIO
    • PHOTOSYNTHESIS
    • PEATLAND
    • SAMPLES
    • EXPORTS

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