Assessing whether land use, from activities such as wind farm construction and tree-felling, impacts on terrestrial C delivery to rivers has focused on quantifying the loss of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and not the composition changes. Here we explore how land use influences DOC composition by considering fluvial DOC concentration, [DOC], and spectrophotometric composition of a river draining a peat-rich catchment. We find that in this 5.7km2 catchment differences occur in both the concentration and composition of the DOC in its sub-catchments. This is attributed to differences in how land was used: one tributary (D-WF) drains an area with wind farm construction and forestry in the headwaters, and one tributary (D-FF) drains an area with felled plantation trees. Generally, [DOC] in both streams showed similar seasonal variation, and autumn maxima. However, the felled catchment had greater mean [DOC] than the wind farm catchment. The SUVA254 and E4/E6 indicated DOC in both streams had similar aromaticity and fulvic:humic acid for most of the time, but SUVA410 and E2/E4 indicated less DOC humification in the felled catchment. This may be due to young DOC from the breakdown of residual branches and roots, or more humification in soils in the wind farm area. During the dry months, DOC composition showed more spatial variation: the D-WF DOC had smaller SUVA254 (less total aromatic material) and SUVA410 (fewer humic substances). The decreased E2/E4 in both streams indicated the total aromatic carbon decreased more than humic substances content. Moreover, the larger E4/E6 for D-WF in summer indicated that the humic substances were richer in fulvic acids than humic acids. Soil disturbance associated with forestry-felling likely contributed to the higher [DOC] and release of less-humified material in D-FF. This research indicates drivers of different DOC concentration and composition can exist even in small catchments.
Science of the Total Environment – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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