Importance of within-lake processes in affecting the dynamics of dissolved organic carbon and dissolved organic and inorganic nitrogen in an Adirondack forested lake/watershed

P. G. Kang, M. J. Mitchell, P. J. McHale, Charles T Driscoll, M. R. McHale, S. Inamdar, J. H. Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Lakes nested in forested watersheds play important roles in mediating the concentrations and fluxes of dissolved organic matter. We compared long-term patterns of concentrations and fluxes of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), and dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in the Arbutus Lake Watershed to evaluate how a lake nested in a forested watershed affects the dynamics of DOC and DON in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, USA. We observed no significant long-term changes of concentrations and fluxes of DOC and DON in the Lake outlet since 1983 and 1994, respectively. However, the temporal patterns of DOC and DON concentrations in the Lake inlet showed significant seasonality such as increases during the vegetation-growing season along with notable decreases in the dormant season. A comparison of mass-balances between inlet and outlet for the period from 2000 to 2009 suggested that the Lake was a sink of DOC (mean of influx minus outflux: +1140 mol C ha-1 yr-1). In contrast, the difference of discharge-weighted DON concentrations (mean of inlet minus outlet: -1.0 μmol N L-1) between inlet and outlet was much smaller than the discharge-weighted DOC concentrations (average of inlet minus outlet: +87 μmol C L-1). DON fluxes showed considerable variation among years (mean of influx minus outflux: +8 mol N ha-1 yr-1; range of differences: -15 to 27 mol N ha-1 yr-1). DON exhibited low % retention ((influx - outflux) / influx) (mean: 6.9 %, range: -34.8 to +31.2) compared to DOC (mean: 30.1 %, range: +9.2 to +44.1). The resultant increase of DON within the lake was closely linked with a net decrease of DIN through monthly Pearson correlation analysis, suggesting the importance of biotic factors in mediating a lake DON dynamics. Our results show different relative retentions of DOC compared with DON, along with a larger retention of DIN than DON, suggesting that DOC and DON might display substantially different biogeochemical relationships in oligo-mesotrophic lakes nested forested watersheds and therefore different roles for a sink behavior for DOC compared to a producer of DON.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17285-17327
Number of pages43
JournalBiogeosciences Discussions
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 28 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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