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  1. Abstract

    Salt pollution is a threat to freshwater ecosystems. Anthropogenic salt inputs increase lake and stream salinity, and consequently change aquatic ecosystem structure and function. Elevated salt concentrations impact species directly not only through osmoregulatory stress, but also through community‐level feedbacks that change the flow of energy and materials through food webs. Here, we discuss the implications of road salt pollution on freshwater rivers and lakes and how “one size fits all” ecotoxicity thresholds may not adequately protect aquatic organisms.

    This article is categorized under:

    Science of Water > Water Quality

    Water and Life > Nature of Freshwater Ecosystems

    Water and Life > Stresses and Pressures on Ecosystems

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  2. Abstract

    Accounting for temporal changes in carbon dioxide (CO2) effluxes from freshwaters remains a challenge for global and regional carbon budgets. Here, we synthesize 171 site-months of flux measurements of CO2based on the eddy covariance method from 13 lakes and reservoirs in the Northern Hemisphere, and quantify dynamics at multiple temporal scales. We found pronounced sub-annual variability in CO2flux at all sites. By accounting for diel variation, only 11% of site-months were net daily sinks of CO2. Annual CO2emissions had an average of 25% (range 3%–58%) interannual variation. Similar to studies on streams, nighttime emissions regularly exceeded daytime emissions. Biophysical regulations of CO2flux variability were delineated through mutual information analysis. Sample analysis of CO2fluxes indicate the importance of continuous measurements. Better characterization of short- and long-term variability is necessary to understand and improve detection of temporal changes of CO2fluxes in response to natural and anthropogenic drivers. Our results indicate that existing global lake carbon budgets relying primarily on daytime measurements yield underestimates of net emissions.

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  3. Abstract

    Extracellular electron transfer (EET) by electroactive bacteria in anoxic soils and sediments is an intensively researched subject, but EET's function in planktonic ecology has been less considered. Following the discovery of an unexpectedly high prevalence of EET genes in a bog lake's bacterioplankton, we hypothesized that the redox capacities of dissolved organic matter (DOM) enrich for electroactive bacteria by mediating redox chemistry. We developed the bioinformatics pipeline FEET (Find EET) to identify and summarize predicted EET protein‐encoding genes from metagenomics data. We then applied FEET to 36 bog and thermokarst lakes and correlated gene occurrence with environmental data to test our predictions. Our results provide indirect evidence that DOM may participate in bacterioplankton EET. We found a similarly high prevalence of genes encoding putative EET proteins in most of these lakes, where oxidative EET strongly correlated with DOM. Numerous novel clusters of multiheme cytochromes that may enable EET were identified. Taxa previously not considered EET‐capable were found to carry EET genes. We propose that EET and DOM interactions are of ecologically important to bacterioplankton in small boreal lakes, and that EET, particularly by methylotrophs and anoxygenic phototrophs, should be further studied and incorporated into methane emission models of melting permafrost.

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  4. Abstract

    Streams and rivers are major sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere, as carbon and nitrogen are converted and outgassed during transport. Although our understanding of drivers of individual GHG fluxes has improved with numerous site‐specific studies and global‐scale compilations, our ability to parse out interrelated physical and biogeochemical drivers of gas concentrations is limited by a lack of consistently collected, temporally continuous samples of GHGs and their associated drivers. We present a first analysis of such a dataset collected by the National Ecological Observatory Network across 27 streams and rivers across ecoclimatic domains of the United States. Average concentrations of CO2ranged from 36.9 ± 0.88 to 404 ± 33 μmol L−1, CH4from 0.003 ± 0.0003 to 4.99 ± 0.72 μmol L−1, and N2O from 0.015 to 0.04 μmol L−1and spanned ranges of previous global compilations. Both CO2and CH4were strongly affected by physical drivers including mean air temperature and stream slope, as well as by dissolved oxygen and total nitrogen concentrations. N2O was exclusively correlated with total nitrogen concentrations. Results suggested that potential for gas exchange dominated patterns in gas concentrations at the site level, but contributions of in‐stream aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, and groundwater also likely varied across sites. The highest gas concentrations as well as highest variability occurred in low‐gradient, warmer, and nonperennial systems. These results are a first step in providing unprecedented, continuous estimates of GHG flux constrained by temporally variable physical and biogeochemical drivers of GHG production.

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  5. Abstract

    Metabolic rate is a trait that may evolve in response to the direct and indirect effects of predator‐induced mortality. Predators may indirectly alter selection by lowering prey densities and increasing resource availability or by intensifying resource limitation through changes in prey behavior (e.g., use of less productive areas). In the current study, we quantify the evolution of metabolic rate in the zooplanktonDaphnia pulicariafollowing an invasive event by the predatorBythotrephes longimanusin Lake Mendota, Wisconsin, US. This invasion has been shown to dramatically impactD.pulicaria, causing a ~60% decline in their biomass. Using a resurrection ecology approach, we compared the metabolic rate ofD.pulicariaclones originating prior to theBythotrephesinvasion with that of clones having evolved in the presence ofBythotrephes. We observed a 7.4% reduction in metabolic rate among post‐invasive clones compared to pre‐invasive clones and discuss the potential roles of direct and indirect selection in driving this change.

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  6. Abstract

    Regime shifts have large consequences for ecosystems and the services they provide. However, understanding the potential for, causes of, proximity to, and thresholds for regime shifts in nearly all settings is difficult. Generic statistical indicators of resilience have been proposed and studied in a wide range of ecosystems as a method to detect when regime shifts are becoming more likely without direct knowledge of underlying system dynamics or thresholds. These early warning statistics (EWS) have been studied separately but there have been few examples that directly compare temporal and spatial EWS in ecosystem‐scale empirical data. To test these methods, we collected high‐frequency time series and high‐resolution spatial data during a whole‐lake fertilization experiment while also monitoring an adjacent reference lake. We calculated two common EWS, standard deviation and autocorrelation, in both time series and spatial data to evaluate their performance prior to the resulting algal bloom. We also applied the quickest detection method to generate binary alarms of resilience change from temporal EWS. One temporal EWS, rolling window standard deviation, provided advanced warning in most variables prior to the bloom, showing trends and between‐lake patterns consistent with theory. In contrast, temporal autocorrelation and both measures of spatial EWS (spatial SD, Moran's  I) provided little or no warning. By compiling time series data from this and past experiments with and without nutrient additions, we were able to evaluate temporal EWS performance for both constant and changing resilience conditions. True positive alarm rates were 2.5–8.3 times higher for rolling window standard deviation when a lake was being pushed towards a bloom than the rate of false positives when it was not. For rolling window autocorrelation, alarm rates were much lower and no variable had a higher true positive than false positive alarm rate. Our findings suggest temporal EWS provide advanced warning of algal blooms and that this approach could help managers prepare for and/or minimize negative bloom impacts.

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  7. Abstract

    Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is an intermediate between organic carbon formed by primary producers and carbon dioxide (CO2) produced through respiration, making it a key component of the carbon cycle in aquatic ecosystems. Its composition influences the routes of mineralization. Here, we evaluate DOM composition as a function of time and depth in Lake Mendota, a highly productive eutrophic lake that stratifies in warm months and is located in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. Dissolved organic carbon concentrations and optical properties are presented for 73 samples collected at a single location at varying depths within the water column from June to November. A subset of samples is analyzed by Fourier transform‐ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT‐ICR MS) to investigate DOM composition at the molecular level. Temporally, increases in more oxidized formulas are observed in both the epilimnion and hypolimnion. At the surface, correlations between DOM formulas and both chlorophyll concentrations and light intensity show that photochemical reactions contribute to DOM oxidation. In the hypolimnion, redox conditions and interactions with sediments likely influence temporal compositional change. Our results show DOM composition varies with depth with more highly oxidized formulas identified deeper in the water column. However, DOM composition varies more temporally than by location within the water column. This work has implications for climate change as DOM photooxidation in lakes represents an understudied flux of CO2to the atmosphere. Additionally, lake eutrophication is increasing due to warming temperatures and this data set yields detailed molecular information about DOM composition and processing in such lakes.

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  8. Abstract

    The manureshed concept aims to rebalance surplus manure nutrients produced at animal feeding operations (sources) and the demands from nutrient‐deficient croplands (sinks) to reduce negative environmental impacts and utilize nutrients more efficiently. Due to water quality implications, studies focused on this rebalancing have typically created domain boundaries that match a particular watershed. However, a majority of agricultural datasets that are used to inform these analyses—specifically, livestock populations—are only available at the county scale, which generally does not match watershed boundaries. The common method used to address this mismatch is to weight the county statistics based on the proportion of watershed area within the county. However, these straightforward assumptions imply that animal density is uniform across a county, which can be highly problematic, especially in an era of increasing concentration of livestock production on a smaller land area. We present a case study of the Lake Mendota watershed in south‐central Wisconsin using both a typical county‐based downscaled dataset as well as a more spatially explicit dataset of livestock counts from the Census of Agriculture that aggregates a set of zip codes that best matches the watershed boundary. This comparison reveals a substantial difference in estimated livestock numbers and their associated manure production that is due to a concentration of dairy operations within the watershed compared with the rest of the county. We argue that sub‐county scale data need to become more available and integrated into nutrient and water quality management efforts so that manuresheds can be more effectively delineated and implemented.

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  9. Abstract

    In limnological studies of temperate lakes, most studies of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) emissions have focused on summer measurements of gas fluxes despite the importance of shoulder seasons to annual emissions. This is especially pertinent to dimictic, small lakes that maintain anoxic conditions and turnover quickly in the spring and fall. We examined CO2and CH4dynamics from January to October 2020 in a small humic lake in northern Wisconsin, United States through a combination of discrete sampling and high frequency buoy and eddy covariance data collection. Eddy covariance flux towers were installed on buoys at the center of the lake while it was still frozen to continually measure CO2and CH4across seasons. Despite evidence for only partial turnover during the spring, there was still a notable 19‐day pulse of CH4emissions after lake ice melted with an average daytime flux rate of 8–30 nmol CH4m−2s−1. Our estimate of CH4emissions during the spring pulse was 16 mmol CH4m−2compared to 22 mmol CH4m−2during the stratified period from June to August. We did not observe a linear accumulation of gases under‐ice in our sampling period during the late winter, suggesting the complexity of this dynamic period and the emphasis for direct measurements throughout the ice‐covered period. The results of our study help to better understand the magnitude and timing of greenhouse gas emissions in a region expected to experience warmer winters with decreased ice duration.

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  10. Abstract

    Ice‐off dates on lakes are some of the longest phenological records in the field of ecology, and some of the best evidence of long‐term climatic change. However, there has been little investigation as to whether the date of ice‐off on a lake impacts spring and summer ecosystem dynamics. Here, I analyzed 274 years of long‐term data from eight north temperate lakes in two climate zones to address whether lakes have ecological memory of ice‐off in the subsequent summer. Five metrics were investigated: epilimnion temperatures, hypolimnion temperatures, hypolimnetic oxygen drawdown, water clarity, and spring primary productivity. The response of the metrics to ice‐off date were variable across latitude and lake type. The northern set of lakes stratified quickly following ice‐off, and early ice‐off years resulted in significantly warmer hypolimnetic temperatures. Oxygen depletion in the hypolimnion was not impacted by ice‐off date, likely because in late ice‐off years the lakes did not fully mix. In the southern lakes, ice‐off date was not correlated to the onset of stratification, with the latter being a more dominant control on hypolimnetic temperature and oxygen. The implications of these findings is that as ice‐off date trends earlier in many parts of the world, the lakes that will likely experience the largest changes in spring and summer ecosystem properties are the lakes that currently have the longest duration of lake ice. In considering a future with warmer winters, these results provide a starting point for predicting how lake ecosystem properties will change with earlier ice‐off.

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