Response to Comment: Terrestrial support of pelagic consumers in unproductive lakes : uncertainty and potential in assessments using stable isotopes

Forskningsoutput: TidskriftsbidragDebate/Note/Editorial


The use of stable carbon isotopes (d13C) has played a key role in estimation of the proportion of aquatic consumer biomass derived from terrestrial organic matter (OM; i.e., allochthony; Meili et al. 1996; Grey et al. 2001; Pace et al. 2004). However, the use of d13C for assessing allochthony has shortcomings because of the small natural separation between terrestrial and aquatic isotopic end members and the difficulty in physically separating autotrophic phytoplankton for d13C analysis from other components of particulate organic carbon (POC). These shortcomings are especially problematic in unproductive lakes where the phytoplankton are dominated by small and mixotrophic species, and where the internal photosynthesis is low compared to the input of terrestrial OM (Algesten et al. 2004; Jansson et al. 2008). Several alternative analyses and approaches have been tested to overcome these methodological limitations, including compound-specific analyses of phytoplankton biomarkers (Pace et al. 2007; Van Den Meersche et al. 2009; Berggren et al. 2014), manipulation of phytoplankton d13C by addition of 13C-labeled dissolved inorganic carbon (Pace et al. 2004; Taipale et al. 2008), addition of 13C-enriched OM (Karlsson et al. 2007; Bartels et al. 2012), and various mass balance and modeling approaches (Marty and Planas 2008; Mohamed and Taylor 2009; Berggren et al. 2010). Still, a generally applicable method is lacking, implying that the problems with assessing d13C of phytoplankton is a major limitation in the use of d13C for estimating allochthony with the accuracy needed for detailed understanding of food web dynamics.


  • Jan Karlsson
  • Martin Berggren
  • Jenny Ask
  • Pär Byström
  • Anders Jonsson
  • Hjalmar Laudon
  • Mats Jansson
Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Umeå University
  • Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Naturgeografi
Sidor (från-till)1800-1803
TidskriftLimnology and Oceanography
StatusPublished - 2014
Peer review utfördJa