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The size distribution of organic carbon in headwater streams in the Amazon basin

de Paula, Joana D’Arc, Luizão, Flávio Jesus, Piedade, Maria Teresa Fernandez
Environmental science and pollution research international 2016 v.23 no.12 pp. 11461-11470
basins, benthic organisms, biomass, carbon, dissolved organic carbon, energy, particulate organic carbon, rain, soil fertility, stream channels, transportation, vegetation
Despite the strong representativeness of streams in the Amazon basin, their role in the accumulation of coarse particulate organic carbon (CPOC), fine particulate organic carbon (FPOC), and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in transport, an important energy source in these environments, is poorly known. It is known that the arboreal vegetation in the Amazon basin is influenced by soil fertility and rainfall gradients, but would these gradients promote local differences in organic matter in headwater streams? To answer this question, 14 low-order streams were selected within these gradients along the Amazon basin, with extensions that varied between 4 and 8 km. The efficiency of the transformation of particulate into dissolved carbon fractions was assessed for each stream. The mean monthly benthic organic matter storage ranged between 1.58 and 9.40 t ha⁻¹ month⁻¹. In all locations, CPOC was the most abundant fraction in biomass, followed by FPOC and DOC. Rainfall and soil fertility influenced the distribution of the C fraction (p = 0.01), showing differentiated particulate organic carbon (POC) storage and DOC transportation along the basin. Furthermore, the results revealed that carbon quantification at the basin level could be underestimated, ultimately influencing the global carbon calculations for the region. This is especially due to the fact that the majority of studies consider only fine particulate organic matter and dissolved organic matter, which represent less than 50 % of the stored and transported carbon in streambeds.