Tracing of particulate organic C sources across the terrestrial-aquatic continuum, a case study at the catchment scale (Carminowe Creek, southwest England)

A - Papers appearing in refereed journals

Glendell, M., Jones, R., Dungait, J. A. J., Meusburger, K., Schwendel, A. C., Barclay, R., Barker, S., Haley, S., Quine, T. A. and Meersmans, J. 2018. Tracing of particulate organic C sources across the terrestrial-aquatic continuum, a case study at the catchment scale (Carminowe Creek, southwest England). Science of the Total Environment. 616-617 (March), pp. 1077-1088. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.211

AuthorsGlendell, M., Jones, R., Dungait, J. A. J., Meusburger, K., Schwendel, A. C., Barclay, R., Barker, S., Haley, S., Quine, T. A. and Meersmans, J.
Abstract

Soils deliver crucial ecosystem services, such as climate regulation through carbon (C) storage and food security, both of which are threatened by climate and land use change. While soils are important stores of terrestrial C, anthropogenic impact on the lateral fluxes of C from land to water remains poorly quantified and not well represented in Earth system models. In this study, we tested a novel framework for tracing and quantifying lateral C fluxes from the terrestrial to the aquatic environment at a catchment scale. The combined use of conservative plant-derived geochemical biomarkers n-alkanes and bulk stable δ13C and δ15N isotopes of soils and sediments allowed us to distinguish between particulate organic C sources from different land uses (i.e. arable and temporary grassland vs. permanent grassland vs. riparian woodland vs. river bed sediments) (p<0.001), showing an enhanced ability to distinguish between land use sources as compared to using just n-alkanes alone. The terrestrial-aquatic proxy (TAR) ratio derived from n-alkane signatures indicated an increased input of terrestrial-derived organic matter (OM) to lake sediments over the past 60years, with an increasing contribution of woody vegetation shown by the C27/C31 ratio. This may be related to agricultural intensification, leading to enhanced soil erosion, but also an increase in riparian woodland that may disconnect OM inputs from arable land uses in the upper parts of the study catchment. Spatial variability of geochemical proxies showed a close coupling between OM provenance and riparian land use, supporting the new conceptualization of river corridors (active river channel and riparian zone) as critical zones linking the terrestrial and aquatic C fluxes. Further testing of this novel tracing technique shows promise in terms of quantification of lateral C fluxes as well as targeting of effective land management measures to reduce soil erosion and promote OM conservation in river catchments.

KeywordsLateral carbon fluxes; Sediment fingerprinting; Biomarkers; Bulk stable C and N isotopes; Alkanes
Year of Publication2018
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Journal citation616-617 (March), pp. 1077-1088
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.10.211
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online06 Nov 2017
Publication process dates
Accepted20 Oct 2017
PublisherElsevier
Elsevier Science Bv
Copyright licensePublisher copyright
ISSN0048-9697

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