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Effects of catchment characteristics and disturbances on storage and export of dissolved organic carbon in a boreal headwater stream

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Abstract:

The transportation of large amounts of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) down a stream within a 15.51-km2 catchment in Alberta, Canada, related directly to events, such as high rainfall and beaver (Castor canadensis) dam failures, that created major disturbances. A 2.3-km section of the stream was drastically altered in June 1994 when a flood wave resulting from a breached beaver dam deposited large amounts of debris and sediment within the section. Results from stream DOC-storage analyses, in which a difference method was used, suggest that the organic-debris dams created by the failed dam event served as both sources and sinks for DOC. Discharge and DOC measurements at hydrometric stations located at intervals along the stream indicated that storage of DOC on the catchment was strongly influenced by the presence of wetlands and beaver. In 1994 and 1995, disturbances occurring during periods totalling 17 days and 28 days accounted for 94% (1374 kg·km–2) and 84% (204 kg·km–2), respectively, of the amount of DOC exported from the catchment. DOC concentrations in the stream were greatest (77.0 mg·L–1) near the top of the catchment and decreased progressively downstream to the catchment outlet, where the mean concentration was 23.3 mg·L–1.

Le transport de grandes quantités de matière organique dissoute (DOC) vers aval dans un cours d'eau ayant un bassin versant de 15,51 km2 en Alberta, Canada, est relié directement à des événements, tels que des précipitations abondantes ou des ruptures de barrages de castors (Castor canadensis), qui causent des perturbations majeures. Une section de 2,3 km du cours d'eau a été altérée de façon catastrophique en juin 1994 lorsqu'une onde de crue provenant de la rupture d'un barrage de castors a déposé de grandes quantités de débris et de sédiments dans la section. Des analyses d'accumula tion de DOC dans le cours d'eau, basées sur une méthode de différence, indiquent que les barrages de débris organiques créés par la rupture du barrage de castors servent à la fois de sources et de drains de DOC. Les mesures de débit et de DOC faites à des stations hydrométriques situées à intervalles le long du cours d'eau indiquent que l'accumula tion de DOC dans le bassin versant est fortement influencée par la présence de terres humides et de castors. En 1994 et 1995, les perturbations qui ont duré respectivement en tout 17 et 28 jours ont été responsables de 94 % (1374 kg·km–2) et 84 % (204 kg·km–2) de la quantité de DOC exportée du bassin versant. Les concentrations de DOC dans le cours d'eau étaient maximales (77,0 mg·L–1) près de l'amont du bassin versant et elles ont décru progressivement vers l'aval jusqu'à l'embouchure où la concentration moyenne était de 23,3 mg·L–1.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2004

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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