Special Issue "The Impact of Environmental Stressors on Carbon Dynamics in the Aquatic System"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water Quality and Contamination".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2021) | Viewed by 10520

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Soren Brothers
E-Mail Website1 Website2
Guest Editor
Department of Watershed Sciences / Ecology Center, Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA
Interests: carbon cycling; primary production; benthic algae; regime shifts

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue of Water will focus on the impact of environmental stressors on carbon dynamics in aquatic systems. Inland waters tend to process and transport large quantities of terrestrial carbon and both bury and emit carbon to the atmosphere, making them important to the global carbon cycle. However, there remain significant gaps in our knowledge of how carbon loading and carbon processing (and thus carbon fate) are changing over time in response to environmental stressors. Our ability to predict emergent global patterns is further limited as most research has been carried out in the temperate climatic zones of Europe and North America, and a small number of boreal and Arctic systems. Direct and indirect stressors such as atmospheric dust deposition, climate change, watershed modification, chemical pollution, and invasive species (to list a few) are all likely to influence aquatic carbon dynamics. These effects may also be driven by understudied biogeochemical pathways, including processes occurring at the sediment–water interface. For this Special Issue, we are soliciting papers that investigate the effects of specific or multiple stressors on carbon dynamics in inland waters, including both small-scale mechanistic studies and broad-pattern analyses of changes, including research describing understudied regions or system-types.

Dr. Soren Brothers
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Carbon cycling
  • Primary production
  • Allochthonous carbon
  • Multiple stressors
  • Aquatic ecology
  • Benthic processes

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Aquatic Carbon Dynamics in a Time of Global Change
Water 2022, 14(23), 3927; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14233927 - 02 Dec 2022
Viewed by 243
Abstract
Inland waters are globally significant sites of carbon cycling [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Filamentous Algae Blooms in a Large, Clear-Water Lake: Potential Drivers and Reduced Benthic Primary Production
Water 2022, 14(13), 2136; https://doi.org/10.3390/w14132136 - 05 Jul 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1073
Abstract
An apparent proliferation of filamentous algal blooms (FABs) in pristine lakes around the world is a source of concern. However, little is known about the predominant drivers and effects of such FABs on lake ecosystems. We observed FABs in a large clear-water lake [...] Read more.
An apparent proliferation of filamentous algal blooms (FABs) in pristine lakes around the world is a source of concern. However, little is known about the predominant drivers and effects of such FABs on lake ecosystems. We observed FABs in a large clear-water lake (Bear Lake, UT/ID, USA) and analyzed long-term lake monitoring data and algal stable isotopes for changes in climate, food webs and anthropogenic nutrient loading, respectively, as potential local drivers of FAB formation. Furthermore, we quantified in situ metabolism rates on rocks with and without FABs at two locations. Long-term monitoring data revealed increasing summer water temperatures (2009 to 2020) and decreasing winter ice cover (1923 to 2021). The FABs had δ15N values that were higher than 0 ‰, indicating a potential nutrient influx to Bear Lake from livestock or human waste. Climate change and anthropogenic nutrients may thus have facilitated FAB occurrence. Contrary to expectation, the FABs exhibited significantly lower gross primary production rates compared to low-biomass periphyton communities, indicating potentially negative effects of FAB proliferations on lake food webs. Our results highlight the need for expanding lake monitoring programs to include littoral zones to detect and mitigate changes occurring in lakes. Full article
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Article
CO2 and CH4 Emissions from an Arid Fluvial Network on the Chinese Loess Plateau
Water 2021, 13(12), 1614; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13121614 - 08 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1409
Abstract
The emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from inland waters are an important component of the global carbon (C) cycle. However, the current understanding of GHGs emissions from arid river systems remains largely unknown. To shed light on GHGs emissions from inland waters in [...] Read more.
The emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) from inland waters are an important component of the global carbon (C) cycle. However, the current understanding of GHGs emissions from arid river systems remains largely unknown. To shed light on GHGs emissions from inland waters in arid regions, high-resolution carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emission measurements were carried out in the arid Kuye River Basin (KRB) on the Chinese Loess Plateau to examine their spatio-temporal variability. Our results show that all streams and rivers were net C sources, but some of the reservoirs in the KRB became carbon sinks at certain times. The CO2 flux (FCO2) recorded in the rivers (91.0 mmol m−2 d−1) was higher than that of the reservoirs (10.0 mmol m−2 d−1), while CH4 flux (FCH4) in rivers (0.35 mmol m−2 d−1) was lower than that of the reservoirs (0.78 mmol m−2 d−1). The best model developed from a number of environmental parameters was able to explain almost 40% of the variability in partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) for rivers and reservoirs, respectively. For CH4 emissions, at least 70% of the flux occurred in the form of ebullition. The emissions of CH4 in summer were more than threefold higher than in spring and autumn, with water temperature being the key environmental variable affecting emission rates. Since the construction of reservoirs can alter the morphology of existing fluvial systems and consequently the characteristics of CO2 and CH4 emissions, we conclude that future sampling efforts conducted at the basin scale need to cover both rivers and reservoirs concurrently. Full article
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Article
Effects of Macrofaunal Recolonization on Biogeochemical Processes and Microbiota—A Mesocosm Study
Water 2021, 13(11), 1599; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13111599 - 06 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1548
Abstract
Macroinvertebrates are widespread in lake sediments and alter sedimentary properties through their activity (bioturbation). Understanding the interactions between bioturbation and sediment properties is important given that lakes are important sinks and sources of carbon and nutrients. We studied the biogeochemical impact of macrofauna [...] Read more.
Macroinvertebrates are widespread in lake sediments and alter sedimentary properties through their activity (bioturbation). Understanding the interactions between bioturbation and sediment properties is important given that lakes are important sinks and sources of carbon and nutrients. We studied the biogeochemical impact of macrofauna on surface sediments in 3-month-long mesocosm experiments conducted using sediment cores from a hypoxic, macrofauna-free lake basin. Experimental units consisted of hypoxic controls, oxic treatments, and oxic treatments that were experimentally colonized with chironomid larvae or tubificid worms. Overall, the presence of O2 in bottom water had the strongest geochemical effect and led to oxidation of sediments down to 2 cm depth. Relative to macrofauna-free oxic treatments, chironomid larvae increased sediment pore water concentrations of nitrate and sulfate and lowered porewater concentrations of reduced metals (Fe2+, Mn2+), presumably by burrow ventilation, whereas tubificid worms increased the redox potential, possibly through sediment reworking. Microbial communities were very similar across oxic treatments; however, the fractions of α-, β-, and γ-Proteobacteria and Sphingobacteriia increased, whereas those of Actinobacteria, Planctomycetes, and Omnitrophica decreased compared to hypoxic controls. Sediment microbial communities were, moreover, distinct from those of macrofaunal tubes or feces. We suggest that, under the conditions studied, bottom water oxygenation has a stronger biogeochemical impact on lacustrine surface sediments than macrofaunal bioturbation. Full article
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Article
Eutrophication and Geochemistry Drive Pelagic Calcite Precipitation in Lakes
Water 2021, 13(5), 597; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13050597 - 25 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1256
Abstract
Pelagic calcification shapes the carbon budget of lakes and the sensitivity of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) responses to lake metabolism. This process, being tightly linked to primary production, needs to be understood within the context of summer eutrophication which is increasing due to [...] Read more.
Pelagic calcification shapes the carbon budget of lakes and the sensitivity of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) responses to lake metabolism. This process, being tightly linked to primary production, needs to be understood within the context of summer eutrophication which is increasing due to human stressors and global change. Most lake carbon budget models do not account for calcification because the conditions necessary for its occurrence are not well constrained. This study aims at identifying ratios between calcification and primary production and the drivers that control these ratios in freshwater. Using in situ incubations in several European freshwater lakes, we identify a strong relationship between calcite saturation and the ratio between calcification and net ecosystem production (NEP) (p-value < 0.001, R2 = 0.95). NEP-induced calcification is a short-term process that is potentiated by the increase in calcite saturation occurring at longer time scales, usually reaching the highest levels in summer. The resulting summer calcification event has effects on the DIC equilibria, causing deviations from the metabolic 1:1 stoichiometry between DIC and dissolved oxygen (DO). The strong dependency of the ratio between NEP and calcification on calcite saturation can be used to develop a suitable parameterization to account for calcification in lake carbon budgets. Full article
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Article
Carbon Fixation Trends in Eleven of the World’s Largest Lakes: 2003–2018
Water 2020, 12(12), 3500; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12123500 - 12 Dec 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2768
Abstract
Large freshwater lakes provide immense value to the surrounding populations, yet there is limited understanding of how these lakes will respond to climate change and other factors. This study uses satellite remote sensing to estimate annual, lake-wide primary production in 11 of the [...] Read more.
Large freshwater lakes provide immense value to the surrounding populations, yet there is limited understanding of how these lakes will respond to climate change and other factors. This study uses satellite remote sensing to estimate annual, lake-wide primary production in 11 of the world’s largest lakes from 2003–2018. These lakes include the five Laurentian Great Lakes, the three African Great Lakes, Lake Baikal, and Great Bear and Great Slave Lakes. Mean annual production in these lakes ranged from under 200 mgC/m2/day to over 1100 mgC/m2/day, and the lakes were placed into one of three distinct groups (oligotrophic, mesotrophic, or eutrophic) based on their level of production. The analysis revealed only three lakes with significant production trends over the study period, with increases in Great Bear Lake (24% increase over the study period) and Great Slave Lake (27%) and a decline in Lake Tanganyika (−16%). These changes appear to be related to climate change, including increasing temperatures and solar radiation and decreasing wind speeds. This study is the first to use consistent methodology to study primary production in the world’s largest lakes, allowing for these novel between-lake comparisons and assessment of inter-annual trends. Full article
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Review

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Review
Cryptic Constituents: The Paradox of High Flux–Low Concentration Components of Aquatic Ecosystems
Water 2021, 13(16), 2301; https://doi.org/10.3390/w13162301 - 22 Aug 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1544
Abstract
The interface between terrestrial ecosystems and inland waters is an important link in the global carbon cycle. However, the extent to which allochthonous organic matter entering freshwater systems plays a major role in microbial and higher-trophic-level processes is under debate. Human perturbations can [...] Read more.
The interface between terrestrial ecosystems and inland waters is an important link in the global carbon cycle. However, the extent to which allochthonous organic matter entering freshwater systems plays a major role in microbial and higher-trophic-level processes is under debate. Human perturbations can alter fluxes of terrestrial carbon to aquatic environments in complex ways. The biomass and production of aquatic microbes are traditionally thought to be resource limited via stoichiometric constraints such as nutrient ratios or the carbon standing stock at a given timepoint. Low concentrations of a particular constituent, however, can be strong evidence of its importance in food webs. High fluxes of a constituent are often associated with low concentrations due to high uptake rates, particularly in aquatic food webs. A focus on biomass rather than turnover can lead investigators to misconstrue dissolved organic carbon use by bacteria. By combining tracer methods with mass balance calculations, we reveal hidden patterns in aquatic ecosystems that emphasize fluxes, turnover rates, and molecular interactions. We suggest that this approach will improve forecasts of aquatic ecosystem responses to warming or altered nitrogen usage. Full article
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