Indirect link between riverine dissolved organic matter and bacterioplankton respiration in a boreal estuary

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Abstract

Increasing loading of terrestrially derived dissolved organic matter tends to enhance bacterioplankton respiration (BR) in boreal estuaries, but knowledge on the mechanisms behind this effect is not complete. We determined the stable isotopic signature of the reactive estuarine dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in the Öre estuary (Baltic Sea) by using the Keeling plot method. The δ13C ratio of the estuarine labile DOC varied from −26.0‰ to −18.7‰ with most values resembling those typical for DOC of coastal phytoplanktonic origin (−18 to −24‰), while being distinctly higher than those of DOC from ter­res­trial sources (−28‰ to −27‰). Furthermore, the δ13C of the respired carbon was positively correlated to DOC concentrations, indicating that carbon of marine origin increasingly dominated the reactive substrates when input of organic matter into the estuary became higher. This suggests that riverine organic matter mainly affects BR indirectly, by providing nutrients that stimulate the production of phytoplankton-derived reactive DOC in the estuary. Thus, riverine derived DOC per se may not be as important for coastal CO2 emissions as previously thought.

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Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

Keywords

  • Riverine dissolved organic matter, Dissolved organic carbon, Bacterial respiration, Baltic sea, Carbon isotopes, Bacterioplankton, Primary production, Carbon cycling
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-45
JournalMarine Environmental Research
Volume148
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes