Deposition, resuspension, and decomposition of particulate organic matter in the sediments of Lake Itasca, Minnesota, USA

Randall E Hicks, Christopher J. Owen, Peter Aas

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Sediment traps were used to investigate the settling, resuspension, and decomposition of particulate organic matter in Lake Itasca, MN (USA). Traps were deployed in the epilimnion and hypolimnion of the deepest basin during June, 1988, sampled twice during stratified conditions (August, September) and once after the lake had mixed (October). The downward flux of particulate material increased from summer to fall. The net sedimentation of organic matter ranged from 0.6 to 2.3 g m-2 d-1 at 4 m and increased to 2.1 to 3.2 g m-2 d-1 two meters above the bottom sediment indicating that resuspended sediment was at least 33% of the settling mass during all periods. The C:N ratios of captured particles (6.8-9.5) were between the ratios of plankton (5.8 to 6.8) and the sediments (9.9 to 10.2) but smaller than the ratios of terrestrial organic materials (13.5 to 222). The monosaccharide compositions of the entrapped particles were similar to plankton samples and different from the distinct composition of the sediments. Capture of rebound particles similar to the primary flux and not decomposition may have been responsible for this similarity. Total monosaccharide concentrations were lower in the sediments than in entrapped particles. Individual sugars exhibited different patterns of accumulation in the sediments. Glucose was lowest in sediments when the relative concentrations were compared to those in source materials and entrapped particles. In contrast, sediments had the highest rhamnose and fucose concentrations. Bacterial biomass could only account for small portions of these sugars in the sediment. The distinct monosaccharide composition of resuspended sediments was not strongly recorded in materials captured by the sediment traps even after the lake had mixed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)79-91
Number of pages13
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1994


  • carbohydrates
  • lake
  • monosaccharides
  • resuspension
  • sediment
  • sediment traps


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