Ecosystem Consequences of Changing Inputs of Terrestrial Dissolved Organic Matter to Lakes: Current Knowledge and Future Challenges
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- Solomon, C.T., Jones, S.E., Weidel, B.C. et al. Ecosystems (2015) 18: 376. doi:10.1007/s10021-015-9848-y
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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.