How do phytoplankton pigments relate to carbon storage in shallow lakes?

Belén Franco Cisterna, Suzanne McGowan

Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterScientific

Abstract

Although representing only about 1% of the Earth’s surface, inland waters process and efficiently bury large amounts of organic carbon. Phytoplankton are key in the net transfer of CO2 from the atmosphere to sediments, and their physiology and community structure, particularly, may affect the efficiency of carbon sequestration in freshwater ecosystems. However, we lack an understanding of which phytoplankton traits are relevant for predicting carbon storage in shallow lakes. We hypothesized that phytoplankton groups with a high cell density (e.g. siliceous algae) would more effectively bury carbon than buoyant taxa such as cyanobacteria. We studied the relationship between phytoplankton pigment composition (as a bioindicator of traits) and carbon storage in six shallow lakes. The lakes are located in the Attenborough Nature Reserve (Nottinghamshire, UK) and exhibit two contrasting ecological states due to differential hydrological connectivity. Carbon deposition rates were calculated from sediment traps collected monthly during 2005-2015, while carbon burial rates were measured in sediment cores collected in 2009. Concentrations of key marker pigments (fucoxanthin from siliceous algae and canthaxanthin from cyanobacteria) are being analyzed in the water column, sediment traps, and sediment cores and compared with carbon deposition and burial rates at seasonal, interannual, and interdecadal scales. The results obtained from this comprehensive dataset will give us new insights into whether and how major phytoplankton functional groups affect lake carbon cycling.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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