Eutrophication has a greater influence on floodplain lake carbon cycling than dam installation across the middle Yangtze region

Linghan Zeng*, Suzanne McGowan, George E.A. Swann, Melanie J. Leng, Xu Chen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Carbon cycling in shallow floodplain lakes is complex due to variability in delivery of flood-derived allochthonous organic matter (OM). Human activities have potential to significantly modify the carbon balance of lakes by damming which restricts external OM inputs and via eutrophication which can increase the in-lake production of algae and/or aquatic plants. In order to understand how these human activities influence carbon cycling in shallow floodplain lakes over decadal-centennial timescales, we analysed C/N ratios and δ13C from terrestrial plants, catchment soils, aquatic plants and dated sediment cores from six heavily modified lakes in the middle Yangtze floodplain. Submerged macrophytes (−21.4 ± 4.6 ‰) had higher δ13C than C3 plants from the catchment (−26.6 ± 0.6 ‰) and emergent and floating plants (−26.6 ± 4.0 ‰). Increases in sedimentary chlorophyll a (from primary producers) were associated with a decline in sedimentary δ13C in the severely eutrophic Dongting, Luhu, Wanghu and Poyang Lakes after the 1980s. In contrast, sedimentary δ13C increased in Honghu and Futou Lakes which have abundant submerged macrophytes. The timing and scale of sedimentary δ13C changes indicated stronger responses to eutrophication than damming, with eutrophication responses ranging from a macrophyte proliferation to the dominance of phytoplankton.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128510
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Algal production
  • Carbon cycling
  • Floodplain lakes
  • Palaeolimnology
  • Sedimentary δC
  • Submerged macrophytes

Research theme

  • Sustainable water and land use


Dive into the research topics of 'Eutrophication has a greater influence on floodplain lake carbon cycling than dam installation across the middle Yangtze region'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this