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Integrating Aquatic and Terrestrial Perspectives to Improve Insights Into Organic Matter Cycling at the Landscape Scale

Journal article
Authors Z. E. Kayler
K. Premke
A. Gessler
M. O. Gessner
C. Griebler
S. Hilt
Leif Klemedtsson
Y. Kuzyakov
M. Reichstein
J. Siemens
K. U. Totsche
L. Tranvik
A. Wagner
M. Weitere
H. P. Grossart
Published in Frontiers in Earth Science
Volume 7
ISSN 2296-6463
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Language en
Keywords landscape connectivity, organic matter mineralization, priming effects, ecological stoichiometry, bacterial-growth efficiency, carbon fluxes, fresh-water, community, structure, mass-spectrometry, humic substances, leaf-litter, food webs, soil, ecosystems, Geology, ates of america, v115, p445, ates of america, v109, p16963, ates of america, v108, p19473
Subject categories Earth and Related Environmental Sciences


Across a landscape, aquatic-terrestrial interfaces within and between ecosystems are hotspots of organic matter (OM) mineralization. These interfaces are characterized by sharp spatio-temporal changes in environmental conditions, which affect OM properties and thus control OM mineralization and other transformation processes. Consequently, the extent of OM movement at and across aquatic-terrestrial interfaces is crucial in determining OM turnover and carbon (C) cycling at the landscape scale. Here, we propose expanding current concepts in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystem sciences to comprehensively evaluate OM turnover at the landscape scale. We focus on three main concepts toward explaining OM turnover at the landscape scale: the landscape spatiotemporal context, OM turnover described by priming and ecological stoichiometry, and anthropogenic effects as a disruptor of natural OM transfer magnitudes and pathways. A conceptual framework is introduced that allows for discussing the disparities in spatial and temporal scales of OM transfer, changes in environmental conditions, ecosystem connectivity, and microbial-substrate interactions. The potential relevance of priming effects in both terrestrial and aquatic systems is addressed. For terrestrial systems, we hypothesize that the interplay between the influx of OM, its corresponding elemental composition, and the elemental demand of the microbial communities may alleviate spatial and metabolic thresholds. In comparison, substrate level OM dynamics may be substantially different in aquatic systems due to matrix effects that accentuate the role of abiotic conditions, substrate quality, and microbial community dynamics. We highlight the disproportionate impact anthropogenic activities can have on OM cycling across the landscape. This includes reversing natural OM flows through the landscape, disrupting ecosystem connectivity, and nutrient additions that cascade across the landscape. This knowledge is crucial for a better understanding of OM cycling in a landscape context, in particular since terrestrial and aquatic compartments may respond differently to the ongoing changes in climate, land use, and other anthropogenic interferences.

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