Articles | Volume 17, issue 1
Research article
29 Jan 2013
Research article |  | 29 Jan 2013

Dissolved organic carbon characteristics in surface ponds from contrasting wetland ecosystems: a case study in the Sanjiang Plain, Northeast China

L. L. Wang, C. C. Song, and G. S. Yang

Abstract. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) is a significant component of carbon and nutrient cycling in fluvial ecosystems. Natural wetlands, as important DOC sources for river and ocean ecosystems, have experienced extensive natural and anthropogenic disturbances such as climate change, hydrological variations and land use change in recent years. The DOC characteristics in surface ponds from contrasting wetlands in the Sanjiang Plain, Northeastern China were investigated. Surface ponds at seven sites (two natural phialiform wetlands, three natural riparian wetlands, one degraded wetland and one artificial wetland, i.e., rice paddy) were monitored during the growing seasons of 2009 and 2010. The results show that the surface ponds at the five natural wetland sites exhibited a wide range of DOC concentrations (10.06–48.73 mg L−1) during the study period. The DOC concentrations showed no annual differences (P > 0.05) at all the wetland sites, except one of the phialiform wetland sites. The two phialiform wetlands exhibited higher DOC concentrations than the three riparian wetlands (P < 0.05). The DOC concentration in the surface pond at the artificial wetland site was relatively low (P < 0.05) compared to that at the degraded wetland site. The C/C ratios (the color per carbon unit ratio, Abs400/DOC concentration) showed inconsistent variations among these seven wetland sites, while the E4/E6 ratio (Abs465/Abs665, fulvic acid/humic acid) from the surface pond in the rice paddy land exerted 42.07–55.36% reductions (P < 0.05), compared to those at the five natural wetland sites. Furthermore, the E4/E6 ratio in the surface pond at the rice paddy site was significantly lower compared to that at the degraded wetland site (P < 0.05), which indicated that disturbance to wetland DOC in surface ponds might be stronger when natural wetlands were converted to rice paddies in comparison with wetland degradation. This study could not only provide insightful points for understanding the aquatic DOC dynamics from different wetland ecosystems, but also support data information for incorporating the aquatic DOC into the model for regional carbon budgets in the future.