, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 60-70

Impacts of Eutrophication on Carbon Burial in Freshwater Lakes in an Intensively Agricultural Landscape

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The influence of inland water bodies on the global carbon cycle and the great potential for long-term carbon burial in them is an important component of global limnology. We used paleolimnological methods to estimate changes in carbon burial rates through time in a suite of natural lakes in the US state of Iowa which has watersheds that have been heavily modified over the last 150 years. Our results show increasing carbon burial for all lakes in our study as agriculture intensified. Our estimates of carbon burial rates, before land clearance, are similar to the published worldwide averages for nutrient-poor lakes. In nearly all the cases, burial rates increased to very high levels (up to 200 g C m−2 y−1) following agricultural development. These results support the idea that the increased autochthonous and allochthonous carbon flux, related to anthropogenic change, leads to higher rates of carbon burial. Further, these results imply that the fraction of global carbon buried by lakes will be increasingly important in the future if worldwide trends in anthropogenic eutrophication continue.

Author Contributions

AJH and JAD conceived of the experimental design. AJH worked under JAD as a Ph.D. student to develop specific questions and hypotheses for this manuscript. AJH conducted all field work and laboratory analyses. AJH preformed the statistical analysis and generated the figures. AJH and JAD contributed to writing and editing the manuscript.