Although sources of seston are much more complicated in lakes compared to oceans, the influences of different sources on the spatiotemporal variations in seston stoichiometry are still underexplored, especially in large eutrophic floodplain lakes. Here, we investigated seston stoichiometric ratios across a typical large eutrophic floodplain lake (Lake Taihu, East China) over one year. In addition, we used the n-
alkane proxies to examine the influence of the seston source on seston stoichiometry variation. Throughout the study, the average value of the C:N:P ratio of 143:19:1 across Lake Taihu was close to the canonical lake’s ratios (166:20:1). Similar to other eutrophic lakes, seston C:N ratios varied the least across all environments, but C:P and N:P ratios varied widely and showed a strong decreasing trend in ratios of N:P and C:P from growing season to senescence season. This seasonal change was mainly associated with the decreasing contribution from algal-derived materials in seston pools because the non-algal dominated seston exhibited significantly lower ratios than algal-dominated seston. Furthermore, the spatial heterogeneity of stoichiometric ratios was also related to the seston source. During the senescence season, the terrestrial-dominated seston from agricultural watershed exhibited the lowest ratios in estuary sites compared with other areas. Statistically, the predictive power of environmental variables on stoichiometric ratios was strongly improved by adding n-
alkanes proxies. Apart from source indicators, particulate phosphorus (PP) contents also partly explained the spatiotemporal variations in stoichiometric ratios. This study, thus, highlights the utility of multiple-combined n-
alkane proxies in addition to simple C:N ratios to get more robust source information, which is essential for interpreting the spatiotemporal variations in seston stoichiometric ratios among eutrophic floodplain lakes and other freshwater ecosystems.
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