Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 11, pp 11029–11041 | Cite as

Diel-scale variation of dissolved inorganic carbon during a rainfall event in a small karst stream in southern China

  • Junbing PuEmail author
  • Jianhong Li
  • Tao Zhang
  • Jonathan B. Martin
  • Mitra B. Khadka
  • Daoxian Yuan
Research Article


Metabolic processes of the submerged aquatic community (photosynthesis and respiration) play important roles in regulating diel cycles of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and sequestering carbon in a karst stream. However, little is known of whether diel DIC cycling occurs during rainfall in a karst groundwater-fed stream, even though this question is critical for the accurate estimation of what may be a major terrestrial carbon sink. Here, we measured diel variations of water chemical composition in a small karst groundwater-fed stream in southwest China during a rainfall event to assess the influences of rainfall and rising discharge on DIC diel cycling and the potential carbon sink produced by in-stream metabolism. Our results show that water chemical composition at the source spring (CK site) is relatively stable due to chemostatic behavior during rising discharge after a rainfall period. This site lacked submerged aquatic vegetation and, thus, had no diel variations in water chemistry. However, diel cycles of all hydrochemical parameters occurred at a site 1.3 km downstream (LY site). Diel variations in pH, DO, and δ13CDIC were inversely related to diel changes in SpC, DIC, Ca2+, and pCO2. These results indicated that diel cycling of DIC due to in-stream metabolism of submerged aquatic community was still occurring during elevated discharge from rainfall. We estimate the carbon sink through the in-stream metabolism of the submerged aquatic community to be 5.6 kg C/day during the studied rainfall event. These results imply that submerged aquatic communities in a karst stream can significantly stabilize carbon originating from the carbonate rock weathering processes in karst areas.


Dissolved inorganic carbon Rainfall Diel cycle Carbon sink In-stream metabolism Karst stream 



Special thanks are given to Wen Liu and Xue Mo for their help in field and lab works. Heartfelt thanks are also given to Qiang Zhang for his YSI and ISCO autosampler instruments.

Funding information

The study is financially supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41572234, No. 41202185, No. 41702271), the Special Fund for Basic Scientific Research of Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences (YYWF201636), the Guangxi Natural Science Foundation (2016GXNSFCA380002, 2017GXNSFFA198006), the Geological Survey Project of CGS (DD20160305-03), and the Special Fund for Basic Scientific Research of Institute of Karst Geology (No. 2017006).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_4456_MOESM1_ESM.docx (121 kb)
Fig. S1 Cross-plot between (a) DO and water temperature, (b) CO2 evasion flux and water temperature and (c) δ13CDIC and pCO2 at extractive 24-h timescale from 0600 h on August 18 to 0600 h on August 19. (DOCX 120 kb)
11356_2019_4456_MOESM2_ESM.docx (21 kb)
Table S1 Summary of hydrochemical parameters measured at CY and LY site in GSS on August 17–19, 2013 (DOCX 21 kb)
11356_2019_4456_MOESM3_ESM.docx (17 kb)
Table S2 Parameters of PLS models explaining the variability in DIC at LY site. Highly important variables have VIP > 1.0 (marked bold), moderately important variables have VIP 0.8–1.0 (marked italic), and unimportant variables have VIP <0.8. R2Y is comparable to R2 in linear regression and expresses how much of the variance in Y is explained by X. Q2 is a measure of the predictive power of the PLS model. The closer Q2 to R2Y, the better and more robust is the model. (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Junbing Pu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jianhong Li
    • 1
  • Tao Zhang
    • 1
  • Jonathan B. Martin
    • 2
  • Mitra B. Khadka
    • 2
  • Daoxian Yuan
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Karst Dynamics, MNR & GuangxiInstitute of Karst Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological SciencesGuilinChina
  2. 2.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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