Biogeochemistry of a large and deep tropical lake (Lake Kivu, East Africa Insights from a stable isotope study covering an annual cycle

C. Morana, F. Darchambeau, F. A E Roland, A. V. Borges, F. Muvundja, Z. Kelemen, P. Masilya, J. P. Descy, S. Bouillon

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During this study, we investigated the seasonal variability of the concentration and the stable isotope composition of several inorganic and organic matter (OM) reservoirs in the large, oligotrophic and deep tropical Lake Kivu (East Africa). Data were acquired over 1 year at a fortnightly temporal resolution. The δ<sup>13</sup>C signature of the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) increased linearly with time during the rainy season, then suddenly decreased during the dry season due to vertical mixing with <sup>13</sup>C-depleted DIC waters. The δ<sup>13</sup>C signature of the particulate organic carbon pool (POC) revealed the presence of a consistently abundant methanotrophic biomass in the oxycline throughout the year. We also noticed a seasonal shift during the dry season toward higher values in the δ<sup>15</sup>N of particulate nitrogen (PN) in the mixed layer and δ<sup>15</sup>N-PN was significantly related to the contribution of cyanobacteria to the phytoplankton assemblage, suggesting that rainy season conditions could be more favourable to atmospheric nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria. Finally, zooplankton were slightly enriched in <sup>13</sup>C compared to the autochthonous POC pool, and the δ<sup>15</sup>N signature of zooplankton followed well the seasonal variability in δ<sup>15</sup>N-PN, consistently 3.0 ± 1.1 ‰ heavier than the PN pool. Together, δ<sup>13</sup>C and δ<sup>15</sup>N analysis suggests that zooplankton directly incorporate algal-derived OM in their biomass, and that they rely almost exclusively on this source of OM throughout the year in general agreement with the very low allochthonous OM inputs from rivers in Lake Kivu.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4953-4963
Number of pages11
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2015


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