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    Author(s): Laurel M. Lynch; Nicholas A. Sutfin; Timothy S. Fegel; Claudia M. Boot; Timothy P. Covino; Matthew D. Wallenstein
    Date: 2019
    Source: Nature Communications. 10(1): Article 459.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Biogeochemical processing of dissolved organic matter (DOM) in headwater rivers regulates aquatic food web dynamics, water quality, and carbon storage. Although headwater rivers are critical sources of energy to downstream ecosystems, underlying mechanisms structuring DOM composition and reactivity are not well quantified. By pairing mass spectrometry and fluorescence spectroscopy, here we show that hydrology and river geomorphology interactively shape molecular patterns in DOM composition. River segments with a single channel flowing across the valley bottom export DOM with a similar chemical profile through time. In contrast, segments with multiple channels of flow store large volumes of water during peak flows, which they release downstream throughout the summer. As flows subside, losses of lateral floodplain connectivity significantly increase the heterogeneity of DOM exported downstream. By linking geomorphologic landscape-scale processes with microbial metabolism, we show DOM heterogeneity increases as a function of fluvial complexity, with implications for ecosystem function and watershed management.

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    Lynch, Laurel M.; Sutfin, Nicholas A.; Fegel, Timothy S.; Boot, Claudia M.; Covino, Timothy P.; Wallenstein, Matthew D. 2019. River channel connectivity shifts metabolite composition and dissolved organic matter chemistry. Nature Communications. 10(1): Article 459.


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    headwater rivers, channels, biogeochemical processing, dissolved organic matter (DOM), geomorphologic landscape-scale processes, microbial metabolism, ecosystems, watershed management

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