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Element fluxes in watershed-lake ecosystems recovering from acidification: Plešné Lake, the Bohemian Forest, 2001–2005

Kopáček, Jiří, Turek, Jan, Hejzlar, Josef, Kaňa, Jiří, Porcal, Petr
Biologia 2006 v.61 no.20 pp. S427
Picea abies, acidification, aluminum, ammonium compounds, bark beetles, biodegradation, cold, denitrification, dieback, ecosystems, forests, hydrology, hydrolysis, ions, lakes, nitrates, nitrification, nitrogen, nitrogen content, nutrients, organic acids and salts, pH, phosphorus, protons, seasonal variation, sediments, silica, sulfates, summer, watersheds, winter, Czech Republic
Fluxes of major ions and nutrients were measured in the watershed-lake ecosystem of a strongly acidified lake, Plešné jezero (Plešné Lake), in the Czech Republic in hydrological years from 2001 through 2005. The lake is situated in a Norway spruce forest and has a steep watershed between elevations of 1090 and 1378 m. The average water input and output from the ecosystem was 1372 mm and 1157 mm (37 L km−2 s−1), respectively, and the water residence time averaged 306 days. Despite ecosystem recovery from acidification occurring since the late 1980s, the Plešné watershed was an average net source of 25 mmol SO42− m−2 yr−1. Nitrogen saturation of the watershed caused low retention of the deposited inorganic N (< 44% on average) before 2004. Then, the watershed became a net source of 28–32 mmol m−2 yr−1 of inorganic N in the form of NO3− due to climatic effects (a dry summer in 2003 and a cold winter in 2004) and forest dieback caused by a bark beetle attack in 2004. Nitrogen transformations and SO42− release were the dominant terrestrial sources of H+ (72 and 49 mmol m−2 yr−1, respectively) and the watershed was a net source of 24 mmol H+ m−2 yr−1. Ionic composition of surface inlets showed seasonal variations, with the most pronounced changes in NO3−, ionic Al (Ali), and DOC concentrations, while the composition of subsurface inlets was more stable. The in-lake biogeochemical processes reduced on average 59% of the incoming H+ (251 mmol H+ m−2 yr−1 on a lake-area basis). NO3− assimilation and denitrification, photochemical and microbial decomposition of allochthonous organic acids, and SO42− reduction in the sediments were the most important aquatic H+ consuming processes (358, 121, and 59 mmol H+ m−2 yr−1, respectively), while hydrolysis of Ali was the dominant in-lake H+ generating process (233 mmol H+ m−2 yr−1). Photochemical liberation from organic complexes was an additional in-lake source of Ali. The net in-lake retention or removal of total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and silica were on average 50%, 27%, and 23%, respectively. The lake was a net source of NH4+ due to a cease in nitrification (pH < 5) and from NH4+ production by dissimilation exceeding its removal by assimilation.