Stabilization of benthic algal biomass in a temperate stream draining agroecosystems

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9 Scopus citations


Results of the present study quantified carbon sequestration due to algal stabilization in low order streams, which has not been considered previously in carbon stream ecosystem studies. The authors used empirical mode decomposition of an 8-year carbon elemental and isotope dataset to quantify carbon accrual and fingerprint carbon derived from algal stabilization. The authors then applied a calibrated, process-based stream carbon model (ISOFLOC) that elicits further evidence of algal stabilization. Data and modeling results suggested that processes of shielding and burial during an extreme hydrologic event enhance algal stabilization. Given that previous studies assumed stream algae are turned over or sloughed downstream, the authors performed scenario simulations of the calibrated model in order to assess how changing environmental conditions might impact algae stabilization within the stream. Results from modeling scenarios showed an increase in algal stabilization as mean annual water temperature increases ranging from 0 to 0.04 tC km−2 °C−1 for the study watershed. The dependence of algal stabilization on temperature highlighted the importance of accounting for benthic fate of carbon in streams under projected warming scenarios. This finding contradicts the evolving paradigm that net efflux of CO2 from streams increases with increasing temperatures. Results also quantified sloughed algae that is transported and potentially stabilized downstream and showed that benthos-derived sloughed algae was on the same order of magnitude, and at times greater, than phytoplankton within downstream water bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-443
Number of pages12
JournalWater Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd


  • Agroecosystems
  • Algal stabilization
  • Fluvial carbon budget
  • Watershed model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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