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Sources of dissolved and particulate organic material in Loch Vale Watershed, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA

January 1, 1991

The sources of both dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and particulate organic carbon (POC) to an alpine (Sky Pond) and a subalpine lake (The Loch) in Rocky Mountain National Park were explored for four years. The importance of both autochthonous and allochthonous sources of organic matter differ, not only between alpine and subalpine locations, but also seasonally. Overall, autochthonous sources dominate the organic carbon of the alpine lake, while allochthonous sources are a more significant source of organic carbon to the subalpine lake. In the alpine lake, Sky Pond, POC makes up greater than one third of the total organic matter content of the water column, and is related to phytoplankton abundance. Dissolved organic carbon is a product of within-lake activity in Sky Pond except during spring snowmelt and early summer (May–July), when stable carbon isotope ratios suggest a terrestrial source. In the subalpine lake, The Loch, DOC is a much more important constituent of water column organic material than POC, comprising greater than 90% of the spring snowmelt organic matter, and greater than 75% of the organic matter over the rest of the year. Stable carbon isotope ratios and a very strong relation of DOC with soluble Al(tot) indicate DOC concentrations are almost entirely related to flushing of soil water from the surrounding watershed during spring snowmelt. Stable carbon isotope ratios indicate that, for both lakes, phytoplankton is an important source of DOC in the winter, while terrestrial material of plant or microbial origin contributes DOC during snowmelt and summer.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1991
Title Sources of dissolved and particulate organic material in Loch Vale Watershed, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA
DOI 10.1007/BF00003219
Authors Jill Baron, Diane M. McKnight, A. Scott Denning
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biogeochemistry
Series Number
Index ID 70016936
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization

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