Stable isotope and conservative tracer data used to estimate uptake of stream water dissolved organic carbon (DOC) through a whole-stream addition of a 13C-DOC tracer coupled with laboratory measurements of bioavailability of the tracer and stream water DOC using lability profiling with bioreactors

350 210 Stroud Water Research Center

Kaplan, L.A., J.D. Newbold, T.N. Wiegner, and M.H. Ostrom. 2019. Environmental Data Initiative.

This dataset is released under the Creative Commons license – Attribution – CC BY.


We performed a whole-stream addition of a 13C-DOC tracer and made laboratory measurements of the biological availability of the tracer as well as stream water DOC. The study was performed in October 2002 in a 1.27 km stretch of the third-order White Clay Creek in southeastern Pennsylvania. The tracer was prepared as a cold-water leachate of 13C-labeled tulip poplar saplings and it was added to the stream along with sodium bromide, a conservative tracer, over a 2-h period. Stream water samples were collected at 8 downstream stations over an 8-h period, filtered, and analyzed for concentrations of bromide and DOC. DOC was measured by Pt-catalyzed, persulfate oxidation, Br was analyzed by ion chromatography, and C isotope samples were rotary evaporated, acidified, lyophilized, combusted, and the CO2 analyzed with an elemental analyzer interfaced with an isotope ratio mass spectrometer. Lability profiling of the 13C-DOC tracer and stream water DOC were performed with a series of plug-flow bioreactors of increasing empty-bed contact times with the concentration of biodegradable DOC operationally defined as the difference between the DOC concentrations in the influent and effluent waters of the bioreactors. The bioreactor measurements were performed 2 days after the whole-stream release. Data were analyzed to estimate the uptake of stream water DOC associated with labile and semi-labile fraction of biodegradable DOC. These data have been previously used in a 2008 publication in Freshwater Biology, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2427.2007.01941.x.