Source water inputs and catchment characteristics regulate limnological conditions of shallow subarctic lakes (Old Crow Flats, Yukon, Canada)

Ann M. Balasubramaniam, Roland I. Hall, Brent B. Wolfe, Jon N. Sweetman, Xiaowa Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Climate variations exert rapid and strong control on the hydrology of shallow lake-rich subarctic landscapes, but knowledge of the associated effects on limnological conditions remains limited. Based on analysis of water isotope compositions and water chemistry at 56 lakes across Old Crow Flats (Yukon), a large thermokarst landscape, we assess if differences in source water inputs (snowmelt versus rainfall) affect limnological conditions during the ice-free season of 2007 and explore influences of catchment features. Results demonstrate that lakes with snowmelt-dominated source waters, situated in catchments that support tall shrub and woodland vegetation, possess significantly higher (p < 0.05) nutrient (N, P, SiO2) and dissolved organic carbon concentrations than lakes with rainfall-dominated source waters. Conversely, rainfall-dominated lakes, located in catchments dominated by dwarf shrubs and sparse vegetation, have significantly higher concentrations of major ions (Mg2+, Na+, SO42−) and pH. These limnological differences persisted throughout the ice-free season. We suggest that interaction of snowmelt with organic-rich detritus raises nutrient concentrations in snowmelt-dominated lakes and that evaporative-concentration, shoreline erosion and possibly rainfall runoff are processes that raise the ionic content of lakes with rainfall-dominated source waters. Knowledge of these relations improves the ability to anticipate limnological responses to ongoing and future climate and hydrological change in Arctic and subarctic regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1058-1072
Number of pages15
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number7
StatePublished - Mar 19 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science

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