Original paper

Spatial and temporal patterns of bacterial density and metabolic activity in a karst aquifer

Simon, K. S.; Gibert, J.; Petitot, P.; Laurent, R.

Archiv für Hydrobiologie - Hauptbände Volume 151 Number 1 (2001), p. 67 - 82

40 references

published: Mar 23, 2001

DOI: 10.1127/archiv-hydrobiol/151/2001/67

BibTeX file

ArtNo. ESP141015101011, Price: 29.00 €

Download preview PDF Buy as PDF


Karst aquifers are heterotrophic ecosystems fueled by organic matter imported from the surface. The temporal pattern of floods influences organic matter import and the spatial distribution of organic matter and biofilms in aquifer structural zones. We investigated spatial and temporal patterns of bacterial density and activity as indicators of energy availability and microbial dynamics in a karst aquifer. During baseflow, bacterial density and microbial hydrolytic activity were similar in the upper and lower zones of the aquifer. Floods apparently scoured aquifer biofilms and transported soil bacteria into the aquifer, increasing inactive bacterial density in the water column. Respiring bacterial density did not respond to floods and changed little over time. The overall proportion of total bacteria that were respiring was very high on some dates, resulting from a reduction of inactive cell density during flood recession. Floods appear to be key events in scouring senescent microbial assemblages in karst aquifers and stimulating microbial recolonization of the aquifer matrix. We conclude that a conceptual model of karst aquifer structure and function should incorporate changes caused by alternation between flooding and drying in the aquifer.


Biofilmorganic matterfloodsmicrobial activitysubterranean network