, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 143–153 | Cite as

Autochthonous origin of semi-labile dissolved organic carbon in a large monomictic lake (Lake Biwa): carbon stable isotopic evidence

  • Koh Maki
  • Chulgoo Kim
  • Chikage Yoshimizu
  • Ichiro Tayasu
  • Toshihiro Miyajima
  • Toshi Nagata
Research paper


Semi-labile dissolved organic carbon (DOC) plays an important role in the transport and hypolimnetic remineralization of carbon in large freshwater lakes. However, sources of semi-labile DOC in lakes remain unclear. This study used a carbon stable isotope approach to examine relative contributions of autochthonous and allochthonous sources to semi-labile DOC. Vertical and seasonal variations in the concentration and carbon stable isotope ratio (δ13C) of DOC were determined in large (surface area 674 km2; maximum depth 104 m), monomictic Lake Biwa. A sharp vertical gradient of δ13C of DOC (δ13C-DOC) during the stratification period [mean ± standard error (SE) −25.5 ± 0.1 and −26.0 ± 0.0‰ in the epi- and hypolimnion, respectively] indicated the accumulation of 13C-rich DOC in the epilimnion. Vertical mixing explained the intermediate values of δ13C-DOC (−25.7 ± 0.0‰) measured throughout the water column during the overturn period. Both DOC concentration and δ13C-DOC decreased in the hypolimnion during stratification, indicating selective remineralization of 13C-rich DOC. Using a two-component mixing model, we estimated the δ13C value of semi-labile DOC to be −22.2 ± 0.3‰, which was close to the δ13C of particulate organic carbon collected in the epilimnion during productive seasons (−22.7 ± 0.7‰) but much higher than the δ13C-DOC in river waters (−26.5 ± 0.1‰). Semi-labile DOC appeared to be mainly autochthonous in origin, produced by planktonic communities during productive seasons. The spatiotemporal uncoupling between production and remineralization of semi-labile DOC implies that hypolimnetic oxygen consumption may be affected by pelagic primary production during productive seasons of the preceding year.


Semi-labile dissolved organic carbon Autochthony and allochthony Mixing model Carbon stable isotope ratio Large lake 



T. Koitabashi, T. Miyano, and Y. Goda assisted with field sampling. This study was supported by the Basic Research Program of the Japan Science and Technology Agency, the Twenty-first Century Center of Excellence Program (Kyoto University), and the Global Environmental Research Fund (Fa-084) by the Ministry of the Environment, Japan. Our experiments comply with the current law of Japan.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Limnology 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Koh Maki
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chulgoo Kim
    • 2
    • 3
  • Chikage Yoshimizu
    • 2
  • Ichiro Tayasu
    • 2
  • Toshihiro Miyajima
    • 1
  • Toshi Nagata
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Ocean Research InstituteThe University of TokyoNakanoJapan
  2. 2.Center for Ecological ResearchKyoto UniversityOtsuJapan
  3. 3.Center for Aquatic Ecosystem RestorationKangwon National UniversityKangwonKorea

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