The effects of augmentation of coarse particulate organic matter in hyporheic sediments
Crenshaw, Chelsea Leigh
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Metabolic and biogeochemical processes in hyporheic zones may depend on inputs of coarse particulate organic matter. Our research focused on how differing quantity and quality of organic matter affects metabolism and nutrient retention in the hyporheic zone of a low-order Appalachian stream. We hypothesized that hyporheic metabolic rates should increase with organic matter additions because the biotic activity is limited by organic matter availability. Four sets (n=4 amendments/set) of plots were established on a tributary of Hugh White Creek, NC. Sediment was extracted and was either supplemented with leaves, wood, or plastic strips, or sediments remained unamended sediments. Following augmentation sediments were reimbedded and approximately three months later sediment was removed from each plot. Aerobic and anaerobic metabolism were measured as the change in O2, and CO2 in recirculating microcosms. At the same time, we monitored other possible terminal electron accepting processes and changes in nutrients. Aerobic metabolism was low in all treatments and respiratory quotients calculated for all treatments indicated that metabolism was dominated by anaerobic processes. Anaerobic and total (combined aerobic and anaerobic) respiration rates were significantly greater (P < 0.05) in plots treated with leaf organic matter compared to controls. Nutrient retention (NO3-N, NH4-N, and DOC) was enhanced in augmented treatments. Measured losses of dissolved organic carbon accounted for 50% total carbon liberated by respiration in amended sediments, whereas in unamended sediments loss of DOC represented only 7% of measured respiration. Augmentation with greater quality organic matter stimulated respiration in hyporheic sediments. Anaerobic processes dominated metabolic rates in both control and amended sediments. Enhanced metabolic rates increased retention of many solutes indicating that energy flow and nutrient dynamics in the subsurface of streams may depend upon the quantity and quality of imported carbon.
- Masters Theses