Lake-landscape connections at the forest-tundra transition of northern Manitoba

Charles E. Umbanhowar, Philip Camill, Mark B. Edlund, Christoph Geiss, Patrick Henneghan, Kendra Passow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


To better understand aquatic-terrestrial linkages in the sub-Arctic, and specifically the relative importance of landscape position versus land cover, we surveyed lakes, soils, land cover, and lake/basin characteristics in a 14000 km2 region of acidic forest-tundra landscape near northern Manitoba, Canada (59.56°N, 97.72°W) in 2009. We analyzed 39 different biological, chemical, and physical variables for lakes and soils. We used a remote-sensing-based classification to determine that the landscape was 21% water, 46% peat-forming lowland, and 24.9% open tundra, and we assigned lake order to all lakes based on the order of the outlet stream for each lake. Lakes were oligotrophic to mesotrophic (median total phosphorus: TP = 11.8 μg L-1), N-limited (median dissolved inorganic nitrogen: TP = 1.6), acidic (median pH 5.7), and had moderate amounts of dissolved organic carbon (median DOC = 5.2 mg L-1). We identified 2 principle groups of variables represented by DOC and conductivity/ cations, respectively, that captured major axes of lake variation. DOC, 2 measures of DOC quality (a250/a365 [a proxy for molecular weight and aromaticity] and specific ultraviolet absorbance), and Fe and were significantly correlated with percent cover of lowland forest, but conductivity/cations were not correlated with variation in land cover. Soils were generally acidic (pH 2.7-4.4) and nutrient-poor, and wetland soils contained more carbon and higher concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and other cations than upland open tundra. Landscape position of lakes (measured as lake order) did not capture systematic differences in land cover or lake biogeochemistry. Our results highlight the importance of lowland export of DOC to lakes and further suggest the need for additional regional studies of aquatic-terrestrial connections in Arctic and sub-Arctic landscapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-74
Number of pages18
JournalInland Waters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© International Society of Limnology 2014.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Arctic
  • Biogeochemistry
  • DOC
  • Lake order
  • Lakes
  • Land cover
  • Landscape
  • sub-Arctic
  • Tundra


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