Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-3038
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2023-3038
15 Jan 2024
 | 15 Jan 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Yakima River Basin Water Column Respiration is a Minor Component of River Ecosystem Respiration

Stephanie G. Fulton, Morgan Barnes, Mikayla A. Borton, Xingyuan Chen, Yuliya Farris, Brieanne Forbes, Vanessa A. Garayburu-Caruso, Amy E. Goldman, Samantha Grieger, Robert Hall Jr., Matthew H. Kaufman, Xinming Lin, Erin McCann, Sophia A. McKever, Allison Myers-Pigg, Opal C. Otenburg, Aaron C. Pelly, Huiying Ren, Lupita Renteria, Timothy D. Scheibe, Kyongho Son, Jerry Tagestad, Joshua M. Torgeson, and James C. Stegen

Abstract. Aerobic respiration of organic matter is a key metabolic process influencing carbon (C) biogeochemistry in aquatic ecosystems. Anthropogenic and environmental perturbations to stream ecosystem metabolism can have deleterious effects on downstream water quality. Various environmental features of rivers also influence stream metabolism, including physical (e.g., discharge, light, flow regimes) and chemical factors (nutrients, organic matter) and watershed characteristics (e.g., stream size or drainage area, land use). The relative proportion of surface water contact with benthic sediments has been considered the primary driver of ecosystem processes, including ecosystem respiration (ER). While aquatic ecosystem respiration occurs in the water column (ERwc) and in benthic sediments—including surficial and subsurface sediments (ERsed)—ERsed has long been assumed to be the primary contributor to whole-river ecosystem respiration (ERtot). Recent studies show, however, that somewhere along the river continuum (e.g., 5th–9th order), rivers transition from being dominated by benthic processes to being dominated by water column processes. Yet few metabolism studies have parsed contributions from the water column (ERwc) to ERtot, making it difficult to evaluate the relative magnitude and importance of ERwc across the river continuum and across biomes. In this study, we used the Yakima River basin, Washington, USA, to increase our understanding of basin-scale variation in ERwc. We collected ERwc data and water chemistry samples in triplicate at 47 sites in the Yakima River basin distributed across Strahler stream orders 2–7 and different hydrological and biophysical settings during summer baseflow conditions in 2021. We found that observed ERwc rates were consistently slow throughout the basin during baseflow conditions, ranging from −0.11–0.03 mg O2 L⁻1 d⁻1, and were generally at the very slow end of the range of published ERwc literature values. When compared to reach-scale ERtot rates predicted for rivers across the conterminous United States (CONUS), the very slow ERwc rates we observed throughout the Yakima River basin indicate that ERwc is likely a small component of ERtot in this basin. Despite these slow rates, ERwc nonetheless shows spatial variation across the Yakima River basin that was well explained by watershed characteristics and water chemistry. Multiple linear regression model results show that nitrate (NO3-N), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and temperature together explained 41.5 % of the spatial variation in ERwc. Supporting the findings of other studies, we found that ERwc increased linearly with increasing NO3-N, increasing DOC, and increasing temperature. We hypothesize that low concentrations of nutrients, DOC, and low temperatures in the water column, coupled with low TSS concentrations, likely contribute to the slow ERwc rates observed throughout the Yakima River basin. Because ERtot measurements integrate contributions from water column respiration and sediment-associated respiration (ERsed), estimating ERtot in cold, clear, low nutrient rivers like those in the Yakima River basin with very slow ERwc will essentially measure contributions from ERsed.

Stephanie G. Fulton, Morgan Barnes, Mikayla A. Borton, Xingyuan Chen, Yuliya Farris, Brieanne Forbes, Vanessa A. Garayburu-Caruso, Amy E. Goldman, Samantha Grieger, Robert Hall Jr., Matthew H. Kaufman, Xinming Lin, Erin McCann, Sophia A. McKever, Allison Myers-Pigg, Opal C. Otenburg, Aaron C. Pelly, Huiying Ren, Lupita Renteria, Timothy D. Scheibe, Kyongho Son, Jerry Tagestad, Joshua M. Torgeson, and James C. Stegen

Status: open (until 23 Mar 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
Stephanie G. Fulton, Morgan Barnes, Mikayla A. Borton, Xingyuan Chen, Yuliya Farris, Brieanne Forbes, Vanessa A. Garayburu-Caruso, Amy E. Goldman, Samantha Grieger, Robert Hall Jr., Matthew H. Kaufman, Xinming Lin, Erin McCann, Sophia A. McKever, Allison Myers-Pigg, Opal C. Otenburg, Aaron C. Pelly, Huiying Ren, Lupita Renteria, Timothy D. Scheibe, Kyongho Son, Jerry Tagestad, Joshua M. Torgeson, and James C. Stegen

Data sets

Spatial Study 2021: Sensor-Based Time Series of Surface Water Temperature, Specific Conductance, Total Dissolved Solids, Turbidity, pH, and Dissolved Oxygen from across Multiple Watersheds in the Yakima River Basin, Washington, USA (v2) Stephanie G. Fulton, Morgan Barnes, Mikayla A. Borton, Xingyuan Chen, Yuliya Farris, Brieanne Forbes, Vanessa A. Garayburu-Caruso, Amy E. Goldman, Samantha Grieger, Matthew H. Kaufman, Xinming Lin, Sophia A. McKever, Allison Myers-Pigg, Opal Otenburg, Aaron Pelly, Huiying Ren, Lupita Renteria, Timothy D. Scheibe, Kyongho Son, Joshua M. Torgeson, and James C. Stegen https://doi.org/10.15485/1892052

Spatial Study 2021: Sample-Based Surface Water Chemistry and Organic Matter Characterization across Watersheds in the Yakima River Basin, Washington, USA (v2) Samantha Grieger, Morgan Barnes, Mikayla A. Borton, Xingyuan Chen, Rosalie Chu, Yuliya Farris, Brieanne Forbes, Stephanie G. Fulton, Vanessa A. Garayburu-Caruso, Amy E. Goldman, Brianna I. Gonzalez, Matthew H. Kaufman, Sophia A. McKever, Allison Myers-Pigg, Opal Otenburg, Aaron Pelly, Lupita Renteria, Timothy D. Scheibe, Kyongho Son, Joshua M. Torgeson, Jason G. Toyoda, and James C. Stegen https://doi.org/10.15485/1898914

Geospatial Information, Metadata, and Maps for Global River Corridor Science Focus Area Sites (v2) Matthew H. Kaufman, Morgan Barnes, Xingyuan Chen, Brieanne Forbes, Vanessa A. Garayburu-Caruso, Amy E. Goldman, James C. Stegen, Allison Myers-Pigg, and Timothy D. Scheibe https://doi.org/10.15485/1971251

Model code and software

Yakima River Basin Water Column Respiration Manuscript GitHub Repository Stephanie G. Fulton, Morgan E. Barnes, Mikayla A. Borton, Xingyuan Chen, Yuliya Farris, Brieanne Forbes, Vanessa G. Garayburu-Caruso, Amy E. Goldman, Samantha Grieger, Xinming Lin, Sophia A. McKever, Allison Myers-Pigg, Opal C. Otenburg, Aaron C. Pelly, Huiying Ren, Erin McCann, Lupita Renteria, Timothy D. Scheibe, Kyongho Son, Jerry Tagestad, Joshua M. Torgeson, Robert O. Hall, Jr., Matthew H. Kaufman, and James C. Stegen https://github.com/river-corridors-sfa/YRB_Water_Column_Respiration

Stephanie G. Fulton, Morgan Barnes, Mikayla A. Borton, Xingyuan Chen, Yuliya Farris, Brieanne Forbes, Vanessa A. Garayburu-Caruso, Amy E. Goldman, Samantha Grieger, Robert Hall Jr., Matthew H. Kaufman, Xinming Lin, Erin McCann, Sophia A. McKever, Allison Myers-Pigg, Opal C. Otenburg, Aaron C. Pelly, Huiying Ren, Lupita Renteria, Timothy D. Scheibe, Kyongho Son, Jerry Tagestad, Joshua M. Torgeson, and James C. Stegen

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Short summary
This research examines oxygen use in rivers, which is central to the carbon cycle and water quality. The study focused on an environmentally diverse river basin in the western United States and found that oxygen use in river water was very slow and influenced by factors like water temperature and concentrations of nutrients and carbon in the water. Results suggest that in the study system, most of the oxygen use occurs via mechanisms directly or indirectly associated with riverbed sediments.