, Volume 178, Issue 2, pp 603–614 | Cite as

Changes in carbon sources fueling benthic secondary production over depth and time: coupling Chironomidae stable carbon isotopes to larval abundance

  • Victor FrossardEmail author
  • Valérie Verneaux
  • Laurent Millet
  • Michel Magny
  • Marie-Elodie Perga
Global change ecology - Original research


Stable C isotope ratio (δ13C) values of chironomid remains (head capsules; HC) were used to infer changes in benthic C sources over the last 150 years for two French sub-Alpine lakes. The HCs were retrieved from a series of sediment cores from different depths. The HC δ13C values started to decrease with the onset of eutrophication. The HC δ13C temporal patterns varied among depths, which revealed spatial differences in the contribution of methanotrophic bacteria to the benthic secondary production. The estimates of the methane (CH4)-derived C contribution to chironomid biomass ranged from a few percent prior to the 1930s to up to 30 % in recent times. The chironomid fluxes increased concomitantly with changes in HC δ13C values before a drastic decrease due to the development of hypoxic conditions. The hypoxia reinforced the implication for CH4-derived C transfer to chironomid production. In Lake Annecy, the HC δ13C values were negatively correlated to total organic C (TOC) content in the sediment (Corg), whereas no relationship was found in Lake Bourget. In Lake Bourget, chironomid abundances reached their maximum with TOC contents between 1 and 1.5 % Corg, which could constitute a threshold for change in chironomid abundance and consequently for the integration of CH4-derived C into the lake food webs. Our results indicated that the CH4-derived C contribution to the benthic food webs occurred at different depths in these two large, deep lakes (deep waters and sublittoral zone), and that the trophic transfer of this C was promoted in sublittoral zones where O2 gradients were dynamic.


Lakes Chironomids Methanotrophy 



We are indebted to two anonymous reviewers and the editor for comments that greatly improved the manuscript, as well as to Clémentine Fritsch (UMR-CNRS 6249, Besançon) for her advice on statistical analyses. This study is a contribution to the program Impact des Perturbations sur les Réseaux Trophiques en lacs (IPER-RETRO) and was financially supported by the French National Research Agency (ANR VUL 005).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

442_2015_3225_MOESM1_ESM.txt (10 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (TXT 9 kb)
442_2015_3225_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (30 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victor Frossard
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Valérie Verneaux
    • 2
  • Laurent Millet
    • 2
  • Michel Magny
    • 2
  • Marie-Elodie Perga
    • 3
  1. 1.Université Savoie Mont Blanc, UMR42 CARRTELLe-Bourget-du-lacFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire Chrono-EnvironnementUMR6249Besançon CedexFrance
  3. 3.INRAUMR42 CARRTELThonon les Bains CedexFrance

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