Abundance and patterns of transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) in Arctic floodplain lakes of the Mackenzie River Delta

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Authors: Chateauvert CA, Lesack LFW, Bothwell ML
Year: 2012
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences 117, G04013, 14 PP., 2012   Article Link (DOI)
Title: Abundance and patterns of transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) in Arctic floodplain lakes of the Mackenzie River Delta

Abstract: First study of transparent exopolymer particles (TEP) in arctic floodplain lakes
TEP is important but abundances differ from expectations based on marine systems
TEP needs further study in lakes with high primary production and complex DOC

The Mackenzie River Delta is a lake-rich arctic floodplain that receives high inputs of dissolved organic matter (DOM) and suspended particulates from allochthonous and autochthonous sources, and may transfer carbon from dissolved to particulate phase via in situ formation of transparent exopolymer particles (TEP). TEP provides food for grazers, surfaces for bacteria, and increased potential for aggregation and sedimentation of organic matter. During open water 2006, we tracked TEP abundances in three Delta lakes representing gradients that include declining river-to-lake connection times, increasing levels of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and declining chromophoric-DOM (CDOM). Unexpectedly, TEP abundances were highest immediately after the flood, when autochthonous autotrophic production was at a seasonal low and CDOM a seasonal high. Moreover, the lake with the strongest riverine influence and lowest levels of autochthonous autotrophic production had the highest mean TEP-carbon (TEP-C) concentrations among the lakes. The mean proportion of particulate organic carbon (POC) represented by TEP-C increased with increasing river connection time, and appears to represent a substantial proportion of POC in Mackenzie Delta Lakes. Unexpectedly, the TEP gradient was most strongly related to CDOM (river water source) rather than overall DOC. Variations in CDOM accounted for 53% of TEP-C variation among the lakes, indicating allochthonous matter was the most important source of TEP. DOC release from in situ macrophytes during periods of high photosynthesis may contribute to TEP formation in the lake with lowest riverine influence, but pH levels >9.5 driven by the high photosynthetic rates complicate the interpretation of results from this lake.

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