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dc.contributor.authorMutschlecner, Audrey
dc.date.accessioned2017-06-06T23:47:31Z
dc.date.available2017-06-06T23:47:31Z
dc.date.issued2017-05
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/11122/7627
dc.descriptionThesis (M.S.) University of Alaska Fairbanks, 2017en_US
dc.description.abstractArctic and boreal rivers connect terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric carbon (C) pools by transporting and processing dissolved organic matter (DOM). DOM composition influences its susceptibility to decomposition (biolability), which in turn determines whether the associated C is respired, stored, or exported. High-latitude ecosystems are changing rapidly due to processes such as permafrost thaw, shifts in vegetative communities, and increasing discharge, and each of these processes can influence the composition of DOM reaching rivers. The eventual fate of riverine DOM, whether it is mineralized or exported, shifts the balance of global C pools. Therefore, to understand how changes to high-latitude ecosystems influence the global C cycle, we must be able to connect patterns in DOM composition to its biolability and subsequent fate within the C cycle. The objectives of this study were to describe spatial and temporal patterns in DOM composition and biolability, and to determine links between the composition and biolability of DOM. I sampled DOM from streams along an Arctic-boreal gradient in interior Alaska throughout the year. I measured DOM biolability and nutrient limitation of decomposition in laboratory incubations and characterized DOM composition using optical properties and chemical analysis. I found that temporal patterns in DOM composition corresponded to seasonal trends in the hydrology of high-latitude catchments, linking DOM source to shallow, organic-rich flowpaths in spring and deeper groundwater flows in winter. Biolability was low, indicating that the majority of riverine DOM is recalcitrant to biological decomposition. I observed increased biolability in response to phosphorus (P) addition, particularly during spring, indicating that phosphorus limits DOM decomposition. To further examine the mechanisms driving C processing in streams, I also conducted a series of whole-stream experiments to compare the relative influence of molecular composition and nutrient content of DOM. I added leaf leachate to boreal streams and measured C retention, which represents both biological uptake and sorption. The leachates varied by molecular composition, due to differences in tissue chemistry of plant species, and in nutrient content, because the leaves were collected from plots with different fertilization regimes. Retention was greatest for leachates derived from trees that had been fertilized with P, indicating P-limitation of biological uptake of C or preferential sorption of P-containing organic molecules. Although leachates varied in molecular composition as determined by optical properties, these differences did not correspond to a difference in uptake rates by species. These patterns in DOM retention indicate that nutrient content is a greater constraint on C uptake than molecular composition. Together, the two studies suggest that export is the primary fate of ambient DOM in high-latitude streams, but that C processing is highly sensitive to inputs of bioavailable DOM. The coupling between the P and C cycles observed in both studies highlights the potential for nutrient availability to constrain or promote CO₂ emissions from C-rich, high-latitude catchments.en_US
dc.description.tableofcontentsChapter 1. Regional and intra-annual stability of dissolved organic matter composition and biolability in high-latitude rivers -- Chapter 2 Influence of molecular composition and nutrient availability on uptake of dissolved organic matter in boreal streams -- General Conclusion.en_US
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.titleDecomposition of dissolved organic matter in Arctic and boreal streamsen_US
dc.typeThesisen_US
dc.type.degreemsen_US
dc.identifier.departmentDepartment of Biology and Wildlifeen_US
dc.contributor.chairHarms, Tamara
dc.contributor.committeeJones, Jeremy
dc.contributor.committeeGuerard, Jennifer
refterms.dateFOA2020-03-05T14:20:48Z


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