, Volume 229, Issue 1, pp 115–123 | Cite as

Dissolved organic carbon in a humic lake: effects on bacterial production and respiration

  • Dag O. Hessen
DOM as an energy source


Allochthonous matter was the main source of carbon for pelagic bacteria in a humic lake, accounting for almost 90% of the carbon required to support observed bacterial growth. The estimated contribution from zooplankton excretion was of the same magnitude as direct phytoplankton release, both accounting for 5–7% of bacterial demands for dissolved carbon. Bacteria were an important source of carbon both for heterotrophic phytoplankton and for filter feeding zooplankton species, further stressing the role of humus DOC in overall lake productivity.

The high contribution of allochthonous DOC implies a stoichiometry of dissolved nutrients with a surplus of C relative to P. The high P cell quota of bacteria suggest that under such conditions they are P-limited and act like net consumers of P. Excess C will be disposed of, and bacterial respiration rate will increase following a transition from carbon-limited bacterial growth towards mineral-nutrient-limited growth. Thus the high community respiration and frequent CO2-supersaturation in humic lakes may be caused not only by the absolute supply of organic C, but also by the stoichiometry of the dissolved nutrient pool.

Key words:

DOC humus bacteria production respiration 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dag O. Hessen
    • 1
  1. 1.Norwegian Institute for Water ResearchOslo 8Norway

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