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Creators/Authors contains: "Harms, Tamara K."

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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2024
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  3. Temporal patterns in stream chemistry provide integrated signals describing the hydrological and ecological state of whole catchments. However, stream chemistry integrates multi-scale signals of processes occurring in both the catchment and stream. Deconvoluting these signals could identify mechanisms of solute transport and transformation and provide a basis for monitoring ecosystem change. We applied trend analysis, wavelet decomposition, multivariate autoregressive state-space modeling, and analysis of concentration–discharge relationships to assess temporal patterns in high-frequency (15 min) stream chemistry from permafrost-influenced boreal catchments in Interior Alaska at diel, storm, and seasonal time scales. We compared catchments that varied in spatial extent of permafrost to identify characteristic biogeochemical signals. Catchments with higher spatial extents of permafrost were characterized by increasing nitrate concentration through the thaw season, an abrupt increase in nitrate and fluorescent dissolved organic matter (fDOM) and declining conductivity in late summer, and flushing of nitrate and fDOM during summer rainstorms. In contrast, these patterns were absent, of lower magnitude, or reversed in catchments with lower permafrost extent. Solute dynamics revealed a positive influence of permafrost on fDOM export and the role of shallow, seasonally dynamic flowpaths in delivering solutes from high-permafrost catchments to streams. Lower spatial extent of permafrost resulted in staticmore »delivery of nitrate and limited transport of fDOM to streams. Shifts in concentration–discharge relationships and seasonal trends in stream chemistry toward less temporally dynamic patterns might therefore indicate reorganized catchment hydrology and biogeochemistry due to permafrost thaw.« less
  4. Abstract

    River networks regulate carbon and nutrient exchange between continents, atmosphere, and oceans. However, contributions of riverine processing are poorly constrained at continental scales. Scaling relationships of cumulative biogeochemical function with watershed size (allometric scaling) provide an approach for quantifying the contributions of fluvial networks in the Earth system. Here we show that allometric scaling of cumulative riverine function with watershed area ranges from linear to superlinear, with scaling exponents constrained by network shape, hydrological conditions, and biogeochemical process rates. Allometric scaling is superlinear for processes that are largely independent of substrate concentration (e.g., gross primary production) due to superlinear scaling of river network surface area with watershed area. Allometric scaling for typically substrate-limited processes (e.g., denitrification) is linear in river networks with high biogeochemical activity or low river discharge but becomes increasingly superlinear under lower biogeochemical activity or high discharge, conditions that are widely prevalent in river networks. The frequent occurrence of superlinear scaling indicates that biogeochemical activity in large rivers contributes disproportionately to the function of river networks in the Earth system.

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  6. Anthropogenic increases in nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) concentrations can strongly influence the structure and function of ecosystems. Even though lotic ecosystems receive cumulative inputs of nutrients applied to and deposited on land, no comprehensive assessment has quantified nutrient‐enrichment effects within streams and rivers. We conducted a meta‐analysis of published studies that experimentally increased concentrations of N and/or P in streams and rivers to examine how enrichment alters ecosystem structure (state: primary producer and consumer biomass and abundance) and function (rate: primary production, leaf breakdown rates, metabolism) at multiple trophic levels (primary producer, microbial heterotroph, primary and secondary consumers, and integrated ecosystem). Our synthesis included 184 studies, 885 experiments, and 3497 biotic responses to nutrient enrichment. We documented widespread increases in organismal biomass and abundance (mean response = +48%) and rates of ecosystem processes (+54%) to enrichment across multiple trophic levels, with no large differences in responses among trophic levels or between autotrophic or heterotrophic food‐web pathways. Responses to nutrient enrichment varied with the nutrient added (N, P, or both) depending on rate versus state variable and experiment type, and were greater in flume and whole‐stream experiments than in experiments using nutrient‐diffusing substrata. Generally, nutrient‐enrichment effects also increased with watermore »temperature and light, and decreased under elevated ambient concentrations of inorganic N and/or P. Overall, increased concentrations of N and/or P altered multiple food‐web pathways and trophic levels in lotic ecosystems. Our results indicate that preservation or restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem functions of streams and rivers requires management of nutrient inputs and consideration of multiple trophic pathways.« less
  7. Retention of carbon (C), either by physical mechanisms or microbial uptake, is a key driver of the transformation and storage of C and nutrients within ecosystems. Both the molecular composition and nutrient content of organic matter influence the rate at which it is retained in streams, but the relative influence of these characteristics remains unclear. We estimated the effects of nutrient content and molecular composition of dissolved organic C (DOC) on uptake in boreal streams by measuring rates of C retention, in situ, following introduction of leachates derived from alder, poplar, and spruce trees subject to long-term fertilization with nitrogen (N) or phosphorus (P). Leachate C:N varied approximately twofold, and C:P varied nearly 20-fold across species and nutrient treatments. Uptake of DOC was greatest for leachates derived from trees that had been fertilized with P, a finding consistent with P-limitation of uptake and/or preferential sorption of P-containing molecules. Optical measures indicated that leachates derived from the three tree species varied in molecular composition, but uptake of DOC did not differ across species, suggesting weak constraints on retention imposed by molecular composition relative to nutrient limitation. Observed coupling between P and C cycles highlights the potential for increased P availability tomore »enhance DOC retention in headwater streams.« less