Aquatic Sciences

, 81:24 | Cite as

The carbon pump supports high primary production in a shallow lake

  • Mikkel René AndersenEmail author
  • Theis Kragh
  • Kenneth Thorø Martinsen
  • Emil Kristensen
  • Kaj Sand-Jensen
Research Article


Aquatic research on primary production and carbon dynamics often ignores calcification that supports photosynthesis by producing protons and forming CO2. Calcification prevents detrimental pH rise, but causes greater decrease of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). Concurrent DIC replenishment is therefore essential to maintain high photosynthesis. Here we show a mean daily DIC loss of 40% (26% to photosynthesis and 14% to calcification) in surface waters during summer periods in a shallow charophyte-lake and replenishment of the DIC pool by respiration and carbonate dissolution in the bottom waters followed by nocturnal mixing. The daytime DIC assimilation in organic matter relative to oxygen production in surface waters was close to 1.0 (molar ratio), while total DIC loss markedly exceeded oxygen production because of calcification. Our results suggest that photosynthesis would rapidly become carbon limited if permanent stratification prevented transfer of DIC from bottom waters to surface waters or if permanent mixing prevented CO2 accumulation conducive to carbonate dissolution in bottom waters. This vertical transport of DIC effectively functions as a physical and biological pump supporting high metabolism in charophyte-dominated shallow lakes with recurring daily stratification and mixing.


Calcification Dissolved inorganic carbon Net ecosystem productivity Sediment carbon The carbon system High frequency data Shallow lake Carbon pump 


Supplementary material

27_2019_622_MOESM1_ESM.docx (142 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 141 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikkel René Andersen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Theis Kragh
    • 2
  • Kenneth Thorø Martinsen
    • 2
  • Emil Kristensen
    • 2
  • Kaj Sand-Jensen
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Freshwater and Environmental StudiesDundalk institute of TechnologyDundalkIreland
  2. 2.Freshwater Biological SectionUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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