Dissolved oxygen isotope modelling refines metabolic state estimates of stream ecosystems with different land use background

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Piatka, David R.
Venkiteswaran, Jason J.
Uniyal, Bhumika
Kaule, Robin
Gilfedder, Benjamin
Barth, Johannes A. C.
Springer Nature

Dissolved oxygen (DO) is crucial for aerobic life in streams and rivers and mostly depends on photosynthesis (P), ecosystem respiration (R) and atmospheric gas exchange (G). However, climate and land use changes progressively disrupt metabolic balances in natural streams as sensitive reflectors of their catchments. Comprehensive methods for mapping fundamental ecosystem services become increasingly important in a rapidly changing environment. In this work we tested DO and its stable isotope (18O/16O) ratios as novel tools for the status of stream ecosystems. For this purpose, six diel sampling campaigns were performed at three low-order and mid-latitude European streams with different land use patterns. Modelling of diel DO and its stable isotopes combined with land use analyses showed lowest P rates at forested sites, with a minimum of 17.9 mg m−2 h−1. Due to high R rates between 230 and 341 mg m−2 h−1 five out of six study sites showed a general heterotrophic state with P:R:G ratios between 0.1:1.1:1 and 1:1.9:1. Only one site with agricultural and urban influences showed a high P rate of 417 mg m−2 h−1 with a P:R:G ratio of 1.9:1.5:1. Between all sites gross G rates varied between 148 and 298 mg m−2 h−1. In general, metabolic rates depend on the distance of sampling locations to river sources, light availability, nutrient concentrations and possible exchanges with groundwater. The presented modelling approach introduces a new and powerful tool to study effects of land use on stream health. Such approaches should be integrated into future ecological monitoring.

Journal Title
Scientific Reports
Scientific Reports 12 (2022): 10204. <https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-13219-9>
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