Winter nitrification in ice-covered lakes

Autoři: Emily Cavaliere aff001;  Helen M. Baulch aff001
Působiště autorů: University of Saskatchewan, School of Environment and Sustainability, Global Institute for Water Security, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada aff001
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(11)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0224864


With changes in ice cover duration, nutrient loading, and anoxia risk, it is important to understand the mechanisms that control nitrogen cycling and oxygen depletion in lakes through winter. Current understanding is largely limited to description of changes in chemistry, with few measurements of the processes driving winter changes, how they differ across lakes, and how they are impacted by under-ice conditions. Nitrification is a process which consumes oxygen and ammonium (NH4+), and supplies nitrate (NO3). To date, nitrification has been measured under ice cover in only two lakes globally. Here, we used 15NH4+ enrichment to measure rates of pelagic nitrification in thirteen water bodies in two ecozones. Our work demonstrates ecologically important rates of nitrification can occur despite low water temperatures, impacting NH4+, NO3 and, most importantly, oxygen concentrations. However, high rates are not the norm. When, where and why is nitrification important in winter? We found that nitrification rates were highest in a eutrophic lake chain downstream of a wastewater treatment effluent (mean: 226.5 μg N L-1 d-1), and in a semi-saline prairie lake (110.0 μg N L-1 d-1). In the boreal shield, a eutrophic lake had nitrification rates exceeding those of an oligotrophic lake by 6-fold. Supplementing our results with literature data we found NH4+ concentrations were the strongest predictor of nitrification rates across lentic ecosystems in winter. Higher nitrification rates were associated with higher concentrations of NH4+, NO3 and nitrous oxide (N2O). While more work is required to understand the switch between high and low nitrification rates and strengthen our understanding of winter nitrogen cycling, this work demonstrates that high nitrification rates can occur in winter.

Klíčová slova:

Bacterial disk diffusion – Lakes – Nitrates – Oxygen – Ponds – Surface water – Nitrification


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