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Title: Carbon dynamics of river corridors and the effects of human alterations

Abstract

Research in stream metabolism, gas exchange, and sediment dynamics indicates that rivers are an active component of the global carbon cycle and that river form and process can influence partitioning of terrestrially derived carbon among the atmosphere, geosphere, and ocean. Here we develop a conceptual model of carbon dynamics (inputs, outputs, and storage of organic carbon) within a river corridor, which includes the active channel and the riparian zone. The exchange of carbon from the channel to the riparian zone represents potential for storage of transported carbon not included in the “active pipe” model of organic carbon (OC) dynamics in freshwater systems. The active pipe model recognizes that river processes influence carbon dynamics, but focuses on CO2 emissions from the channel and eventual delivery to the ocean. We also review how human activities directly and indirectly alter carbon dynamics within river corridors. We propose that dams create the most significant alteration of carbon dynamics within a channel, but that alteration of riparian zones, including the reduction of lateral connectivity between the channel and riparian zone, constitutes the most substantial change of carbon dynamics in river corridors. We argue that the morphology and processes of a river corridor regulate the abilitymore » to store, transform, and transport OC, and that people are pervasive modifiers of river morphology and processes. The net effect of most human activities, with the notable exception of reservoir construction, appears to be that of reducing the ability of river corridors to store OC within biota and sediment, which effectively converts river corridors to OC sources rather than OC sinks. We conclude by summarizing knowledge gaps in OC dynamics and the implications of our findings for managing OC dynamics within river corridors.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [1];  [3];  [1]
  1. U.S. Geological Survey, Fort Collins, CO (United States). Fort Collins Science Center
  2. Univ. of Wyoming, Laramie, WY (United States)
  3. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
National Science Foundation (NSF); USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1406212
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-17-22331
Journal ID: ISSN 0012-9615
Grant/Contract Number:
AC52-06NA25396
Resource Type:
Journal Article: Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Ecological Monographs
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 87; Journal Issue: 3; Journal ID: ISSN 0012-9615
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Earth Sciences; river; carbon; land use; dam; riparian zone; active channel

Citation Formats

Wohl, Ellen, Hall, Robert O., Lininger, Katherine B., Sutfin, Nicholas A., and Walters, David M.. Carbon dynamics of river corridors and the effects of human alterations. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1002/ecm.1261.
Wohl, Ellen, Hall, Robert O., Lininger, Katherine B., Sutfin, Nicholas A., & Walters, David M.. Carbon dynamics of river corridors and the effects of human alterations. United States. doi:10.1002/ecm.1261.
Wohl, Ellen, Hall, Robert O., Lininger, Katherine B., Sutfin, Nicholas A., and Walters, David M.. Thu . "Carbon dynamics of river corridors and the effects of human alterations". United States. doi:10.1002/ecm.1261.
@article{osti_1406212,
title = {Carbon dynamics of river corridors and the effects of human alterations},
author = {Wohl, Ellen and Hall, Robert O. and Lininger, Katherine B. and Sutfin, Nicholas A. and Walters, David M.},
abstractNote = {Research in stream metabolism, gas exchange, and sediment dynamics indicates that rivers are an active component of the global carbon cycle and that river form and process can influence partitioning of terrestrially derived carbon among the atmosphere, geosphere, and ocean. Here we develop a conceptual model of carbon dynamics (inputs, outputs, and storage of organic carbon) within a river corridor, which includes the active channel and the riparian zone. The exchange of carbon from the channel to the riparian zone represents potential for storage of transported carbon not included in the “active pipe” model of organic carbon (OC) dynamics in freshwater systems. The active pipe model recognizes that river processes influence carbon dynamics, but focuses on CO2 emissions from the channel and eventual delivery to the ocean. We also review how human activities directly and indirectly alter carbon dynamics within river corridors. We propose that dams create the most significant alteration of carbon dynamics within a channel, but that alteration of riparian zones, including the reduction of lateral connectivity between the channel and riparian zone, constitutes the most substantial change of carbon dynamics in river corridors. We argue that the morphology and processes of a river corridor regulate the ability to store, transform, and transport OC, and that people are pervasive modifiers of river morphology and processes. The net effect of most human activities, with the notable exception of reservoir construction, appears to be that of reducing the ability of river corridors to store OC within biota and sediment, which effectively converts river corridors to OC sources rather than OC sinks. We conclude by summarizing knowledge gaps in OC dynamics and the implications of our findings for managing OC dynamics within river corridors.},
doi = {10.1002/ecm.1261},
journal = {Ecological Monographs},
number = 3,
volume = 87,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Jun 22 00:00:00 EDT 2017},
month = {Thu Jun 22 00:00:00 EDT 2017}
}

Journal Article:
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  • This is a presentation with slides on What does it mean to be human? ...humin?; River flow and Hydrographs; Snake River altered hydrograph (Marston et al., 2005); Carbon dynamics are important in rivers; Rivers and streams as carbon sink; Reservoirs for organic carbon; Study sites in Colorado; River morphology; Soil sample collection; Surveys at RMNP; Soil organic carbon content at RMNP; Abandoned channels and Cutoffs; East River channel migration and erosion; Linking hydrology to floodplain sediment flux; Impact of Extreme Floods on Floodplain Sediment; Channel Geometry: RMNP; Beavers dams and multithread channels; Geomorphology and carbon in N. St. Vrain Creek;more » Geomorphology and carbon along the East River; Geomorphology and carbon in N. St. Vrain Creek; San Marcos River, etc.« less
  • Mabry, K.E., and G.W. Barrett. 2002. Effects of corridors on home range sizes and interpatch movements of three small mammal species. Landscape Ecol. 17:629-636. Corridors are predicted to benefit populations in patchy habitats by promoting movement, which should increase population densities, gene flow, and recolonization of extinct patch populations. However, few investigators have considered use of the total landscape, particularly the possibility of interpatch movement through matrix habitat, by small mammals. This study compares home range sizes of 3 species of small mammals, the cotton mouse, old field mouse and cotton rat between patches with and without corridors. Corridor presencemore » did not have a statistically significant influence on average home range size. Habitat specialization and sex influenced the probability of an individual moving between 2 patches without corridors. The results of this study suggest that small mammals may be more capable of interpatch movement without corridors than is frequently assumed.« less
  • Levey, Douglas, J., Benjamin M. Bolker, Joshua J. Tewksbury, Sarah Sargent, and Nick M. Haddad. 2005. Effects of landscape corridors on seed dispersal by birds. Science 309:146-148. Abstract: Habitat fragmentation threatens biodiversity by disrupting dispersal. The mechanisms and consequences of this disruption are controversial, primarily because most organisms are difficult to track. We examined the effect of habitat corridors on long-distance dispersal of seeds by birds, and tested whether small-scale (G20 meters) movements of birds could be scaled up to predict dispersal of seeds across hundreds of meters in eight experimentally fragmented landscapes. A simulation model accurately predicted the observedmore » pattern of seed rain and revealed that corridors functioned through edge following behavior of birds. Our study shows how models based on easily observed behaviors can be scaled up to predict landscape-level processes.« less
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