Bacterial processes and biogeochemical changes in the water body of kettle holes - mainly driven by autochthonous organic matter?
Kettle holes are small inland waters formed from glacially-created depressions often situated in agricultural landscapes. Due to their high perimeter-to-area ratio facilitating a high aquatic-terrestrial coupling, kettle holes can accumulate high concentrations of organic carbon and nutrients, fueling microbial activities and turnover rates. Thus, they represent hotspots of carbon turnover in the landscape, but their bacterial activities and controlling factors have not been well investigated. Therefore, we aimed to assess the relative importance of various environmental factors on bacterial and biogeochemical processes in the water column of kettle holes and to disentangle their variations. In the water body of ten kettle holes in north-eastern Germany, we measured several physico-chemical and biological parameters such as carbon quantity and quality, as well as bacterial protein production (BP) and community respiration (CR) in spring, early summer and autumn 2014. Particulate organic matter served as an indicator of autochthonous production and represented an important parameter to explain variations in BP and CR. This notion is supported by qualitative absorbance indices of dissolved molecules in water samples and C:N ratios of the sediments, which demonstrate high fractions of autochthonous organic matter (OM) in the studied kettle holes. In contrast, dissolved chemical parameters were less important for bacterial activities although they revealed strong differences throughout the growing season. Pelagic bacterial activities and dynamics might thus be regulated by autochthonous OM in kettle holes implying a control of important biogeochemical processes by internal primary production rather than facilitated exchange with the terrestrial surrounding due to a high perimeter-to-area ratio.
KeywordsBacterial production Carbon turnover Growth efficiency Ponds Respiration DOC quality LC-OCD
We would like to thank Lisa-Maria Weber, Robert Taube, Jan Oestmann and Uta Mallok for their assistance in the field and laboratory. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments to improve the manuscript and Raven Bier for her help in correcting the language and style. The study was performed within the LandScales project (‘Connecting processes and structures driving the landscape carbon dynamics over scales’) and funded by the Pact for Innovation and Research of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Scientific Community.
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