Matching Items (3)
- All Subjects: carbon cycling
- All Subjects: Environmental sciences
- Genre: Masters Thesis
- Creators: Hartnett, Hilairy
Dissolved organic matter (DOM) is an important part of aquatic foodwebs because it contains carbon, nitrogen, and other elements required by heterotrophic organisms. It has many sources that determine its molecular composition, nutrient content, and biological lability and in turn, influence whether it is retained and processed in the stream reach or exported downstream. I examined the composition of DOM from vascular wetland plants, filamentous algae, and riparian tree leaf litter in Sonoran Desert streams and its decomposition by stream microbes. I used a combination of field observations, in-situ experiments, and a manipulative laboratory incubation to test (1) how dominant primary producers influence DOM chemical composition and ecosystem metabolism at the reach scale and (2) how DOM composition and nitrogen (N) content control microbial decomposition and stream uptake of DOM. I found that differences in streamwater DOM composition between two distinct reaches of Sycamore Creek did not affect in-situ stream respiration and gross primary production rates. Stream sediment microbial respiration rates did not differ significantly when incubated in the laboratory with DOM from wetland plants, algae, and leaf litter, thus all sources were similarly labile. However, whole-stream uptake of DOM increased from leaf to algal to wetland plant leachate. Desert streams have the potential to process DOM from leaf, wetland, and algal sources, though algal and wetland DOM, due to their more labile composition, can be more readily retained and mineralized.
Organic compounds are influenced by hydrothermal conditions in both marine and terrestrial environments. Sedimentary organic reservoirs make up the largest share of organic carbon in the carbon cycle, leading to petroleum generation and to chemoautotrophic microbial communities. There have been numerous studies on the reactivity of organic compounds in water at elevated temperatures, but these studies rarely explore the consequences of inorganic solutes in hydrothermal fluids. The experiments in this thesis explore new reaction pathways of organic compounds mediated by aqueous and solid phase metals, mainly Earth-abundant copper. These experiments show that copper species have the potential to oxidize benzene and toluene, which are typically viewed as unreactive. These pathways add to the growing list of known organic transformations that are possible in natural hydrothermal systems. In addition to the characterization of reactions in natural systems, there has been recent interest in using hydrothermal conditions to facilitate organic transformations that would be useful in an applied, industrial or synthetic setting. This thesis identifies two sets of conditions that may serve as alternatives to commonplace industrial processes. The first process is the oxidation of benzene with copper to form phenol and chlorobenzene. The second is the copper mediated dehalogenation of aryl halides. Both of these processes apply the concepts of geomimicry by carrying out organic reactions under Earth-like conditions. Only water and copper are needed to implement these processes and there is no need for exotic catalysts or toxic reagents.
Soil Microbial Responses to Different Precipitation Regimes Across a Southwestern United States Elevation Gradient
Soil organic carbon (SOC) is a critical component of the global carbon (C) cycle, accounting for more C than the biotic and atmospheric pools combined. Microbes play an important role in soil C cycling, with abiotic conditions such as soil moisture and temperature governing microbial activity and subsequent soil C processes. Predictions for future climate include warmer temperatures and altered precipitation regimes, suggesting impacts on future soil C cycling. However, it is uncertain how soil microbial communities and subsequent soil organic carbon pools will respond to these changes, particularly in dryland ecosystems. A knowledge gap exists in soil microbial community responses to short- versus long-term precipitation alteration in dryland systems. Assessing soil C cycle processes and microbial community responses under current and altered precipitation patterns will aid in understanding how C pools and cycling might be altered by climate change. This study investigates how soil microbial communities are influenced by established climate regimes and extreme changes in short-term precipitation patterns across a 1000 m elevation gradient in northern Arizona, where precipitation increases with elevation. Precipitation was manipulated (50% addition and 50% exclusion of ambient rainfall) for two summer rainy seasons at five sites across the elevation gradient. In situ and ex situ soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were measured in precipitation treatments in all sites. Soil CO2 flux, microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC were highest at the three highest elevation sites compared to the two lowest elevation sites. Within sites, precipitation treatments did not change microbial biomass C, extracellular enzyme activity, and SOC. Soil CO2 flux was greater under precipitation addition treatments than exclusion treatments at both the highest elevation site and second lowest elevation site. Ex situ respiration differed among the precipitation treatments only at the lowest elevation site, where respiration was enhanced in the precipitation addition plots. These results suggest soil C cycling will respond to long-term changes in precipitation, but pools and fluxes of carbon will likely show site-specific sensitivities to short-term precipitation patterns that are also expected with climate change.