Aquatic Sciences

, 80:22 | Cite as

Differences in the distribution and optical properties of DOM between fresh and saline lakes in a semi-arid area of Northern China

  • Zhidan Wen
  • Kaishan Song
  • Yingxin Shang
  • Ying Zhao
  • Chong Fang
  • Lili Lyu
Research Article


In limnological environments, most organic carbon is present in the dissolved form. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is the main source of energy for microbial metabolism and biosynthesis, and also affects photosynthetic radiation level and the attenuation of ultraviolet irradiation to protect aquatic organisms. There are large differences in DOC concentration, source, and characteristics due to regional variations in water quality and basin characteristics. Reliable estimates of DOC and analysis of optical characteristics are crucial to understand the true role of lakes in the global carbon cycle. In this article, the distribution of DOC across 30 lakes in semi-arid areas of Northern China is reported. The data shows that saline lakes exhibited higher DOC concentrations than freshwater lakes, and the positive relationship between salinity and DOC was established (R2 = 0.42, p < 0.01, n = 196). The mean DOC concentration in eutrophic lakes was lower than in mesotrophic and oligotrophic lakes. Analysis of optical characteristics of CDOM indicated that saline lakes in this semi-arid regions contained abundant fulvic acid, and greater levels of autochthonous dissolved organic matter (DOM) with a lower molecular mass than fresh waters. The total suspended matter (TSM) is the main factor influencing on SUVA254 in both freshwater and saline lakes with a negative correlation. SUVA254 was negatively correlated with the salinity only in freshwater lakes, and with pH only in saline lakes. The result suggests that it was doubtful whether CDOM or SUVA254 alone can be a predictor of DOC concentration and other water quality parameters, especially in different types of lakes with different optical and physicochemical characteristics.


Dissolved organic carbon CDOM Carbon cycling Lakes Semi-arid area 



This study was jointly supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41501387), Jilin Scientific & Technological Development Program (No. 20150519006JH, No. 20160520075JH) and Northeast Institute of Geography and Agroecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Special service project (No. Y6H2091001). The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers and associate editor for their valuable and instructive comments that really strengthened the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhidan Wen
    • 1
  • Kaishan Song
    • 1
  • Yingxin Shang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ying Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chong Fang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lili Lyu
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Environment, Northeast Institute of Geography and AgroecologyChinese Academy of SciencesChangchunChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina

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