, Volume 18, Issue 3, pp 376–389 | Cite as

Ecosystem Consequences of Changing Inputs of Terrestrial Dissolved Organic Matter to Lakes: Current Knowledge and Future Challenges

  • Christopher T. SolomonEmail author
  • Stuart E. Jones
  • Brian C. Weidel
  • Ishi Buffam
  • Megan L. Fork
  • Jan Karlsson
  • Søren Larsen
  • Jay T. Lennon
  • Jordan S. Read
  • Steven Sadro
  • Jasmine E. Saros


Lake ecosystems and the services that they provide to people are profoundly influenced by dissolved organic matter derived from terrestrial plant tissues. These terrestrial dissolved organic matter (tDOM) inputs to lakes have changed substantially in recent decades, and will likely continue to change. In this paper, we first briefly review the substantial literature describing tDOM effects on lakes and ongoing changes in tDOM inputs. We then identify and provide examples of four major challenges which limit predictions about the implications of tDOM change for lakes, as follows: First, it is currently difficult to forecast future tDOM inputs for particular lakes or lake regions. Second, tDOM influences ecosystems via complex, interacting, physical-chemical-biological effects and our holistic understanding of those effects is still rudimentary. Third, non-linearities and thresholds in relationships between tDOM inputs and ecosystem processes have not been well described. Fourth, much understanding of tDOM effects is built on comparative studies across space that may not capture likely responses through time. We conclude by identifying research approaches that may be important for overcoming those challenges in order to provide policy- and management-relevant predictions about the implications of changing tDOM inputs for lakes.


lake ecosystem dissolved organic matter dissolved organic carbon terrestrial inputs allochthonous environmental change review 



This paper arose from a special session at the 2012 meeting of the Ecological Society of America. Our work on it was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the U.S. National Science Foundation (including DEB-0842441 to JTL and SEJ), the Norwegian Research Council (Grant No. 224779/E10 to D. Hessen), and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This article is contribution 1901 of the USGS Great Lakes Science Center. D. Monteith and collaborators graciously provided data from the ICP Waters program for Figure 1B. Comments from M. Pace and the anonymous reviewers improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher T. Solomon
    • 1
    Email author
  • Stuart E. Jones
    • 2
  • Brian C. Weidel
    • 3
  • Ishi Buffam
    • 4
  • Megan L. Fork
    • 5
  • Jan Karlsson
    • 6
  • Søren Larsen
    • 7
  • Jay T. Lennon
    • 8
  • Jordan S. Read
    • 9
  • Steven Sadro
    • 10
  • Jasmine E. Saros
    • 11
  1. 1.Department of Natural Resource SciencesMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of Notre DameSouth BendUSA
  3. 3.Lake Ontario Biological StationU.S. Geological SurveyOswegoUSA
  4. 4.Departments of Biological Sciences and GeographyUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA
  5. 5.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  6. 6.Department of Ecology and Environmental ScienceUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  7. 7.Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis, Department of BioscienceUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  8. 8.Department of BiologyIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  9. 9.Center for Integrated Data AnalyticsU.S. Geological SurveyMiddletonUSA
  10. 10.Marine Science InstituteUniversity of CaliforniaSanta BarbaraUSA
  11. 11.Climate Change Institute, School of Biology & EcologyUniversity of MaineOronoUSA

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