Original paper

Patterns and controls of carbon stable isotope composition of particulate organic matter in subtropical lakes

Gu, Binhe; Schelske, Claire L.; Waters, Matthew N.


The stable carbon isotope composition (δ13C) of particulate organic matter (POM) has been used to infer sources of organic matter and major biogeochemical processes in lakes. However, very few studies have compared the δ13CPOM among lakes of different limnological properties. Here, we report such an analysis to understand the patterns and controls of stable isotopes of POM from 96 lakes in Florida, USA. Results indicated that δ13CPOM increased significantly with the increases in lake area, pH and trophic state, but decreased with the increase in CO2 concentration and water color content. δ13CPOM in a small set of these lakes showed a positive relationship with δ13C of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). There was a widespread 13C depletion of POM in the study lakes, especially in lakes with high water color, suggesting allochthonous subsidy of phytoplankton production. Multiple regression models pointed to the importance of trophic state, color and pH. This study demonstrated that the δ13CPOM is indicative of carbon source, trophic state and ecosystem metabolism in lakes.


carbon stable isotopes (delta13c)dissolved inorganic carbon (dic)particulate organic matter (pom)respirationtrophic state