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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2022

Co-occurrence of browning and oligotrophication in a boreal stream network

Mosquera, Virginia; Hasselquist, Eliza Maher; Sponseller, Ryan A.; Laudon, Hjalmar;

Abstract

The relative supply of carbon (C), nitrogen (N), and phosphorus (P) to freshwater ecosystems is of fundamental importance to aquatic productivity, nutrient cycling, and food web dynamics. In northern landscapes, ongoing climate change, as well as legacies from atmospheric deposition, have the potential to drive changes in how these elements are recycled on land and exported to streams. While it is well established that dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations have increased in many high latitude streams, the simultaneous trends for N and P and the ratios among these resources, are not well documented. We used data from 13 sites in a boreal stream network to analyze decadal-scale changes in dissolved inorganic N (DIN), dissolved organic N (DON), and dissolved inorganic P (DIP) concentrations and partition these trends seasonally. We observed widespread declines for DIP and DIN in streams, regardless of catchment characteristics. DIN decline was strongest during the growing season, and together with increases in DOC/DON at several sites, suggests increasing N retention by plants and soil microbes across this landscape. By contrast, declines for DIP occurred primarily during late autumn and winter, indicating that key biogeochemical changes are also occurring during non-growing season. Linking these trends to increases in DOC concentration in streams revealed changes in the ratio of energy to nutrient supply for the majority of sites, becoming richer in carbon and poorer in limiting nutrients over time. Overall, our observations from this stream network point to ongoing oligotrophication, with possible consequences for aquatic ecosystems in boreal landscapes.

Published in

Limnology and Oceanography

2022, volume: 67, number: 10, pages: 2325-2339
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management
Sponseller, Ryan A.
Umea University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/lno.12205

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/118789