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Ecosystems

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 60–70 | Cite as

Impacts of Eutrophication on Carbon Burial in Freshwater Lakes in an Intensively Agricultural Landscape

  • Adam J. Heathcote
  • John A. Downing
Article

Abstract

The influence of inland water bodies on the global carbon cycle and the great potential for long-term carbon burial in them is an important component of global limnology. We used paleolimnological methods to estimate changes in carbon burial rates through time in a suite of natural lakes in the US state of Iowa which has watersheds that have been heavily modified over the last 150 years. Our results show increasing carbon burial for all lakes in our study as agriculture intensified. Our estimates of carbon burial rates, before land clearance, are similar to the published worldwide averages for nutrient-poor lakes. In nearly all the cases, burial rates increased to very high levels (up to 200 g C m−2 y−1) following agricultural development. These results support the idea that the increased autochthonous and allochthonous carbon flux, related to anthropogenic change, leads to higher rates of carbon burial. Further, these results imply that the fraction of global carbon buried by lakes will be increasingly important in the future if worldwide trends in anthropogenic eutrophication continue.

Keywords

carbon burial eutrophication paleolimnology sediment agriculture global change organic matter 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and was inspired by the ITAC (Integration of the Terrestrial and Aquatic Carbon) Working Group supported by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, a Center funded by NSF (Grant DEB-94-21535), the University of California at Santa Barbara, and the State of California. The authors would like to thank Joy Ramstack, Mark Edlund, Dan Engstrom, and Erin Mortenson at the St. Croix Watershed Research Station for their assistance in the field and technical advice in the laboratory, as well as Kristina Brady and Amy Mybro at the Limnological Research Center for their assistance in core processing. The authors would also like to thank Charles Umbanhowar, Jr., for the use of his piston corer. Special thanks to Patricia Soranno and the Anonymous Reviewers 1 and 2 for their helpful comments on this manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal BiologyIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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