Stable isotopic composition of submerged plants living in karst water and its eco-environmental importance.
The stable carbon isotopic composition of submerged plants (δ13CP) can be controlled by physiological and environmental factors. Herein, we took advantage of a short, natural karst river with an annual mean bicarbonate (HCO3−) value of 3.8 mmol L−1 to study the stable carbon isotopic composition of submerged plants along the river and the influence of environmental conditions on the δ13CP values. The δ13CP values of Ottelia acuminata, Potamogeton wrightii, Vallisneria natans, and Hydrilla verticillata from upstream to downstream show a gradient and ranged from −34.8‰ to −27.8‰, −36.6‰ to −23.7‰, −35.1‰ to −25.3‰, and −38.6‰ to −26.3‰, respectively and even more depleted values for the first two species at the uppermost site. Diurnal variation of water chemistry and concentration of the dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and the stable carbon isotopic composition of DIC (δ13CD) indicate that the macrophytes and other primary producers in the river have a very high net photosynthetic rate. The gradient of δ13CP values was consistent with CO2 being a declining source of inorganic carbon for photosynthesis in the downstream transect. The results demonstrate that the high DIC concentration with lower negative δ13C value, particularly in karst water environment has a significant role in controlling the stable carbon isotopic composition of submerged plants living in it.