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Examining respiration and carbon flow in intermittent, urban rivers using novel chamber methodologies

Active Dates 9/1/2022-5/31/2024
Program Area Atmospheric System Research
Project Description
Intermittent rivers and ephemeral streams (IRES) comprise up to 60% of the total length of all river networks on the globe. Due to both climate change impacts and water abstraction, stream intermittency is predicted to become more widespread in the future. IRES have been shown to have “hot spots” or “hot moments” of microbial activity due to the rewetting of streambed sediments after drought. It is imperative to understand post-flood or post-rewet microbial activity dynamics in these ecosystems as we may be underestimating their contribution to greenhouse gas emissions in global biogeochemical models. This work’s research objectives are to measure changes in stream microbial respiration in intermittent and perennial, or always flowing, stream reaches in a watershed located in a large, metropolitan area: San Antonio, TX. Further, we will dissect which places within river ecosystems, water column or beneath the stream bottom, contribute to ecosystem respiration through collaborative efforts with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Our third objective is to relate respiration activity to dissolved organic matter (DOM) quantity and quality. We will deploy respiration chambers in tributaries of the San Antonio River Watershed to capture respiration after flooding events and collect water chemistry samples for DOM and major ion concentrations. The proposed research will include visiting PNNL laboratory facilities to learn how to make respiration chambers, inclusion of a M.Sc. student in environmental science and ecology program at UTSA to perform the research as their thesis, and result in preliminary data to support future grant opportunities through DOE BER.
Award Recipient(s)
  • University of Texas at San Antonio (PI: Veach, Allison)