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Biogeochemistry

, Volume 107, Issue 1–3, pp 81–93 | Cite as

Carbon sink to source: longitudinal gradients of planktonic P:R ratios in subtropical reservoirs

  • Margaret G. Forbes
  • Robert D. Doyle
  • J. Thad Scott
  • Jacob K. Stanley
  • Hui Huang
  • Barry A. Fulton
  • Bryan W. Brooks
Article

Abstract

Spatial patterns of planktonic production and respiration in the surface mixed layer were examined in eight Texas, USA reservoirs to test the hypothesis that P:R ratios are lowest in upreservoir inflow zones and highest in downreservoir open-water zones, as predicted by the heuristic reservoir zonation model. We measured summer planktonic metabolism with light–dark bottles and physical–chemical conditions in epilimnetic water at 85 sites distributed among sixteen longitudinal transects within the eight reservoirs (2 transects per reservoir). Volumetric production and plankton biomass were lowest in the open-water zones and increased upreservoir; however, that pattern was reversed for areal production due to greater photic depths at open-water sites. Volumetric respiration was similar in the three zones; however, corresponding planktonic P:R ratios in the surface mixed layer were significantly lower at open-water sites, which is opposite than hypothesized. Based on linear regressions of production and respiration rates on chlorophyll a, open-water sites were net heterotrophic during the summer regardless of trophic state; whereas inflow and mid-reservoir zone sites were heterotrophic when chlorophyll concentrations were respectively less than 9.5 and 35 mg m−3. Although variation among reservoirs was high, five of the eight reservoirs had inflow zones that were net carbon sinks while seven had open-water zones that were carbon sources. Mean (±standard error) carbon flux rates of inflow, mid-reservoir, and open-water zones were −0.22 ± 0.12 (C sink), 0.39 ± 0.44 (moderate C source), and 1.33 ± 0.50 (strong C source) g C m−2 day−1 respectively. Inflow and mid-reservoir zones comprised approximately 45% of the total reservoir area studied. Therefore, omitting their contribution as often done when a single open-water site is sampled may substantially overestimate reservoir carbon flux.

Keywords

Production: respiration ratios Carbon flux Reservoir zones Longitudinal gradients Heterotrophy 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Funding for this research was provided by grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through the Texas Commission on Environment Quality. We thank Matt Schreiner, Kirk Dean and Jim Patek for GIS assistance, Charles Stanley and Ted Valenti for field support, and Chris Filstrup for discussions on Texas reservoirs. We also thank Owen Lind for thoughtful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret G. Forbes
    • 1
  • Robert D. Doyle
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Thad Scott
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Jacob K. Stanley
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Hui Huang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Barry A. Fulton
    • 1
    • 3
  • Bryan W. Brooks
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Reservoir and Aquatic Systems ResearchBaylor UniversityWacoUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyBaylor UniversityWacoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental ScienceBaylor UniversityWacoUSA
  4. 4.Department of Crop, Soil, and Environmental SciencesUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  5. 5.U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineer Research and Development Center, Environmental LaboratoryVicksburgUSA

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