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Carbocentric limnology: looking back, looking forward

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In this perspective article, I argue that dissolved organic carbon occupies a central role in the functioning of lake ecosystems, comparable in importance to that played by nutrients. Because lakes receive so much dissolved organic carbon from the terrestrial landscape, its accumulation in water bodies usually represents the largest pool of lacustrine organic matter within the water column. The transformation of even a small fraction of this external carbon by the microbial community can alter significantly the metabolic balance of lake ecosystems, simultaneously releasing carbon dioxide to the atmosphere and burying organic carbon in lake sediments. At the landscape level, even if they occupy a small fraction of the landscape, lakes play a surprisingly important role in the regional carbon budget, particularly when considered at the appropriate temporal scale.

Dans cet article perspective, j’avance que le carbone organique dissous joue un rôle central dans le fonctionnement des écosystèmes lacustres, comparable en importance à celui joué par les nutriments. Étant donné que les lacs reçoivent des apports tellement importants de carbone organique dissous des terres environnantes, son accumulation dans les plans d’eau représente généralement le réservoir le plus important de carbone organique lacustre de la colonne d’eau. La transformation même d’une petite fraction de ce carbone d’origine allochtone par la communauté microbienne peut altérer significativement le bilan métabolique de l’écosystème entier, libérant simultanément du dioxyde de carbone à l’atmosphère et enfouissant du carbone organique dans les sédiments lacustres. À l’échelle du paysage, même s’ils occupent une petite portion du territoire, les lacs jouent un rôle d’importance surprenante dans les bilans régionaux de carbone, particulièrement lorsqu’évalué à l’échelle de temps appropriée.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • 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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