Acetate retention and metabolism in the hyporheic zone of a mountain stream

Michelle A. Baker, Clifford N. Dahm, H. Maurice Valett

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An in situ acetate injection was used to determine the influence of labile dissolved organic carbon (DEC) availability on microbial respiration in the hyporheic zone of a headwater stream. We added bromide as a conservative tracer and acetate as an organic substrate to the hyporheic zone of Rio Calaveras, New Mexico, via an injection well. Tracer was observed in four of eight capture wells. Three of the four wells showed increases in bromide without concurrent increases in acetate concentration, suggesting 100% acetate retention. One well had 38% acetate retention. Pore velocity and acetate retention were negatively correlated, suggesting hydrologic control of acetate retention. Acetate did not significantly sorb to the sandy hyporheic sediments at this site, indicating biological consumption of acetate. Acetate addition stimulated total CO2 production along monitored flowpaths and led to changes in solutes associated with microbial terminal electron-accepting processes (TEAPs). Dissolved oxygen (DO), nitrate, and sulfate significantly decreased, and ferrous iron and methane significantly increased compared to background concentrations in most wells. These results support the hypothesis that microbial respiration in the hyporheic zone is limited by labile Dec availability. Furthermore, we have shown that a suite of metabolic processes, from aerobic respiration to methanogenesis, cooccur and that anaerobic processes dominate heterotrophic metabolism in the hyporheic zone of Rio Calaveras.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1530-1539
Number of pages10
JournalLimnology and Oceanography
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1999


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