Oecologia

, Volume 160, Issue 3, pp 421–431 | Cite as

Variations and controls of nitrogen stable isotopes in particulate organic matter of lakes

Concepts, Reviews and Syntheses

Abstract

Nitrogen stable isotope (δ15N) data of particulate organic matter (POM) from the literature were analyzed to provide an understanding of the variations and controls of δ15NPOM in lakes at the global scale. The δ15NPOM variability characterized by seasonal mean, minimum, maximum, and amplitude (defined as δ15NPOM maximum − δ15NPOM minimum) from 36 lakes with seasonal data did not change systematically with latitude, but was significantly lower in small lakes than in large lakes. The seasonal mean δ15NPOM increased from oligotrophic lakes to eutrophic lakes despite large variations that are attributed to the occurrences of nitrogen fixation across the trophic gradient and the differences in δ15N of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) in individual lakes. Seasonal mean δ15NPOM was significantly correlated with DIN concentration and δ15NDIN in two subsets of lakes. Seasonal minimum δ15NPOM in individual lakes is influenced by nitrogen fixation and δ15NDIN while seasonal maximum δ15NPOM is influenced by lake trophic state and δ15NDIN. As a result of the dominance of non-living POM in the unproductive surface waters, seasonal δ15NPOM amplitude was small (mean = 4.2‰) in oligotrophic lakes of all latitudes. On the other hand, seasonal δ15NPOM amplitude in eutrophic lakes was large (mean = 10.3‰), and increased from low to high latitudes, suggesting that the seasonal variability of δ15N in the phytoplankton-dominated POM pool was elevated by the greater spans of solar radiation and thermal regimes at high latitudes. The δ15NPOM from 42 lakes with no seasonal data revealed no consistent patterns along latitude, lake area, and trophic gradients, and a greater than 2‰ depletion compared to the lakes with seasonal data. Along with the large seasonal variability of δ15NPOM within lakes, these results provide insightful information on sampling design for the studies of food web baseline in lakes.

Keywords

δ15Nitrogen fixation Seasonal variability Trophic state 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I appreciated the critical comments by two anonymous reviewers and the editorial improvements by Dr. Thomas Dreschel and Dr. Sharon Ewe.

Supplementary material

442_2009_1323_MOESM1_ESM.doc (102 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 102 kb)

References

  1. Anderson C, Cabana G (2005) δ15N in riverine food webs: effects of N inputs from agricultural watersheds. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 62:333–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bade DL, Carpenter SR, Cole JJ, Hanson PC, Hesslein RH (2004) Controls of δ13C-DIC in lakes: geochemistry, lake metabolism, and morphometry. Limnol Oceanogr 49:1160–1172Google Scholar
  3. Bootsma HA, Hecky RE, Hesslein RH, Turner GF (1996) Food partitioning among Lake Malawi nearshore fishes as revealed by stable isotope analyses. Ecology 77:1286–1290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cabana G, Rasmussen JB (1996) Comparison of aquatic food chains using nitrogen isotopes. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 93:10844–10847PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carpenter SR, Caraco NF, Correll DL, Howarth RW, Sharpley AN, Smith VH (1998) Nonpoint pollution of surface waters with phosphorus and nitrogen. Ecol Appl 8:559–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chapman AD, Schelske CL (1997) Recent appearance of Cylindrospermopsis (Cyanobacteria) in five hypereutrophic Florida lakes. J Phycol 33:191–195CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Delwiche CC, Steyn PL (1970) Nitrogen isotope fractionation in soils and microbial reactions. Environ Sci Technol 4:929–935CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Elser JJ, Bracken MES, Cleland EE, Gruner DS, Harpole WS, Hillebrand H, Ngai JT, Seabloom EW, Shurin JB, Smith JE (2007) Global analysis of nitrogen and phosphorus limitation of primary producers in freshwater, marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Ecol Lett 10:1135–1142PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Estep MLF, Vigg S (1985) Stable carbon and nitrogen isotope tracers of trophic dynamics in natural populations and fisheries of the Lahontan Lake system, Nevada. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 42:1712–1719Google Scholar
  10. Goericke R, Montoya JP, Fry B (1994) Physiology of isotopic fractionation in algae and cyanobacteria. In: Lajtha K, Michener RH (eds) Stable isotopes in ecology and environmental science. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 187–221Google Scholar
  11. Goldman CR, Marzolf ER, Elser JJ (1990) Phosphorus and nitrogen limitation of phytoplankton growth in the freshwaters of North America: a review and critique of experimental enrichments. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 47:1468–1477CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gondwe MJ, Guildford SJ, Hecky RE (2008) Planktonic nitrogen fixation in Lake Malawi/Nyasa. Hydrobiologia 596:251–267CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gu B (1993) Natural abundance of 15N in a subarctic lake and biogeochemical implications to nitrogen cycling. Dissertation, University of Alaska-FairbanksGoogle Scholar
  14. Gu B, Alexander V (1993) Estimation of N2 fixation based on differences in the natural abundance of 15N among freshwater N2-fixing and non-N2-fixing algae. Oecologia 96:43–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gu B, Schell DM, Alexander V (1994) Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic analysis of the plankton food web in a subarctic lake. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 51:1338–1344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gu B, Schelske CL, Brenner M (1996) Relationship between sediment and plankton isotope ratios (δ13C and δ15N) and primary productivity in Florida lakes. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 53:875–883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gu B, Chapman AD, Schelske CL (2006) Factors controlling seasonal variations in stable isotope composition of particulate organic matter in a soft water eutrophic lake. Limnol Oceanogr 51:2837–2848Google Scholar
  18. Hadas O, Altabet MA, Agnihotri R (2009) Seasonally varying nitrogen isotope biogeochemistry of particulate organic matter in Lake Kinneret, Israel. Limnol Oceanogr 54:75–85Google Scholar
  19. Harvey CJ, Kitchell JF (2000) A stable isotope evaluation of the structure and spatial heterogeneity of a Lake Superior food web. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 57:1395–1403CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Havens KE, Phlips EJ, Cichra MF, Li B (1998) Light availability as a possible regulator of cyanobacteria species composition in a shallow subtropical lake. Freshw Biol 39:547–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hodell DA, Schelske CL (1998) Production, sedimentation, and isotopic composition of organic matter in Lake Ontario. Limnol Oceanogr 43:200–214Google Scholar
  22. Hoering TC, Ford HT (1960) The isotope effect in the fixation of nitrogen by Azotobacter. J Am Chem Soc 82:376–378CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Jäntti H (2007) The spatial and temporal variation of nitrogen fixation in aquatic environments. Master Thesis, University of JyväskyläGoogle Scholar
  24. Kling GW, Fry B, O’Brien WJ (1992) Stable isotopes and planktonic trophic structure in Arctic lakes. Ecology 73:561–566CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Leavitt PR, Brock CS, Ebel C, Patoine A (2006) Landscape-scale effects of urban nitrogen on a chain of freshwater lakes in central North America. Limnol Oceanogr 51:2262–2277Google Scholar
  26. Lehmann MF, Bernasconi SM, McKenzie JA, Barbieri A, Simona M, Veronesi M (2004) Seasonal variation of the δ13C and δ15N of particulate and dissolved carbon and nitrogen in Lake Lugano: constraints on biogeochemical cycling in a eutrophic lake. Limnol Oceanogr 49:415–429Google Scholar
  27. MacGregor BJ, Van Mooy B, Baker BJ, Mellon M, Moisander PH, Paerl HW, Zehr J, Hollander D, Stahl D (2001) Microbiological, molecular biological and stable isotopic evidence for nitrogen fixation in the open waters of Lake Michigan. Environ Microbiol 3:205–219PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. McCusker EM, Ostrom PH, Ostrom NE, Jeremiason JD, Baker JE (1999) Seasonal variation in the biogeochemical cycling of seston in Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan. Org Geochem 30:1543–1557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Minagawa M, Wada E (1986) Nitrogen isotope ratios of red tide organisms in the East China Sea: a characterization of biological nitrogen fixation. Mar Chem 19:245–259CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Montoya JP, McCarthy JJ (1995) Isotopic fractionation during nitrate uptake by phytoplankton grown in continuous culture. J Plankton Res 17:439–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Montoya JP, Carpenter EJ, Capone DG (2002) Nitrogen fixation and nitrogen isotope abundances in zooplankton of the oligotrophic North Atlantic. Limnol Oceanogr 47:1617–1628Google Scholar
  32. Mooy BV, MacGregor B, Hollander D, Nealson K, Stahl D (2001) Evidence for tight coupling between active bacteria and particulate organic carbon during seasonal stratification of Lake Michigan. Limnol Oceanogr 46:1202–1208Google Scholar
  33. Ostrom NE, Long DT, Bell EM, Beals T (1998) The origin and cycling of particulate and sedimentary organic matter and nitrate in Lake Superior. Chem Geol 152:13–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Owen JS, Mitchell MJ, Michener RH (1999) Stable nitrogen and carbon isotonic composition of seston and sediment in two adirondack lakes. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 56:2186–2192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Owens NJP (1987) Natural variations in 15N in the marine environment. Adv Mar Biol 24:389–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Patoine A, Graham MD, Leavitt PR (2006) Spatial variation of nitrogen fixation in lakes of the northern Great Plains. Limnol Oceanogr 51:1665–1677Google Scholar
  37. Peterson BJ, Fry B (1987) Stable isotopes in ecosystem studies. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 18:293–320CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Post DM (2002) Using stable isotopes to estimate trophic position: models, methods, and assumptions. Ecology 83:703–718CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pulido-Villena E, Reche I, Morales-Baquero R (2005) Food web reliance on allochthonous carbon in two high mountain lakes with contrasting catchments: a stable isotope approach. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 62:2640–2648CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sarvala J, Badende S, Chitamwebwa D, Juvonen P, Mwape L, Molsa H, Mulimbwa N, Salonen K, Tarvainen M, Vuorio K (2003) Size-fractionated δ15N and δ13C isotope ratios elucidate the role of the microbial food web in the pelagial of Lake Tanganyika. Aq Ecosyst Health Manage 6:241–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Savage C (2005) Tracing the influence of sewage nitrogen in a coastal ecosystem using stable nitrogen isotopes. Ambio 34:143–148Google Scholar
  42. Syväranta J, Tiirola M, Jones RI (2008) Seasonality in lake pelagic δ15N values: patterns, possible explanations, and implications for food web baseline. Fundam Appl Limnol 172:255–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Teranes JL, Bernasconi SM (2000) The record of nitrate utilization and productivity limitation provided by δ15N values in lake organic matter—a study of sediment trap and core sediments from Baldeggersee, Switzerland. Limnol Oceanogr 45:801–813Google Scholar
  44. Vander Zanden MJ, Vadeboncoeur Y, Diebel MW, Jeppensen E (2005) Primary consumer stable nitrogen isotopes as indicators of nutrient source. Environ Sci Technol 39:7509–7515PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Vuorio K, Meili M, Sarvala J (2006) Taxon-specific variation in the stable isotopic signatures (δ15N and δ13C) of lake phytoplankton. Freshw Biol 51:807–822CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wada E, Hattori A (1978) Nitrogen isotope effects in the assimilation of inorganic nitrogenous compounds by marine diatoms [Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Chaetoceros sp.]. Geomicrobiol J 1:85–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Wang J, Wu F, Li W, Wang L, Guo J, Fu P, Zhang R (2008) Seasonal variation and vertical characteristics of the δ15N of particulate organic matter in Lake Hongfeng and Lake Baihua, Guizhou Province. J Lake Sci 20:571–578 (in Chinese)Google Scholar
  48. Waser NAD, Harrison PJ, Nielsen B, Calvert SE, Turpin DH (1998) Nitrogen isotope fractionation during the uptake and assimilation of nitrate, nitrite, ammonium, and urea by a marine diatom. Limnol Oceanogr 43:215–224Google Scholar
  49. Wetzel RG (2001) Limnology: lake and river ecosystems, 3rd edn. Academic Press, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  50. Xie YX, Xiong ZQ, Xing GX, Sun GQ, Zhu ZL (2007) Assessment of nitrogen pollutant sources in surface waters of Taihu Lake region. Pedosphere 17:200–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Yoshioka T, Wada E, Saijo Y (1988) Isotopic characterization of Lake Kizaki and Lake Suwa. Jpn J Limnol 49:119–128Google Scholar
  52. Yoshioka T, Wada E, Hayashi H (1994) A stable isotope study on seasonal food web dynamics in a eutrophic lake. Ecology 75:835–846CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fisheries College, Guangdong Ocean UniversityZhanjiangChina
  2. 2.Everglades DivisionSouth Florida Water Management DistrictWest Palm BeachUSA

Personalised recommendations