FCE LTER Journal Articles


Optical properties are easy-to-measure proxies for dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition, source, and reactivity. However, the molecular signature of DOM associated with such optical parameters remains poorly defined. The Florida coastal Everglades is a subtropical wetland with diverse vegetation (e.g., sawgrass prairies, mangrove forests, seagrass meadows) and DOM sources (e.g., terrestrial, microbial, and marine). As such, the Everglades is an excellent model system from which to draw samples of diverse origin and composition to allow classically-defined optical properties to be linked to molecular properties of the DOM pool. We characterized a suite of seasonally- and spatially-collected DOM samples using optical measurements (EEM-PARAFAC, SUVA254, S275−295, S350−400, SR, FI, freshness index, and HIX) and ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry (FTICR-MS). Spearman's rank correlations between FTICR-MS signal intensities of individual molecular formulae and optical properties determined which molecular formulae were associated with each PARAFAC component and optical index. The molecular families that tracked with the optical indices were generally in agreement with conventional biogeochemical interpretations. Therefore, although they represent only a small portion of the bulk DOM pool, absorbance, and fluorescence measurements appear to be appropriate proxies for the aquatic cycling of both optically-active and associated optically-inactive DOM in coastal wetlands.


© 2015 Wagner, Jaffé, Cawley, Dittmar and Stubbins. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI: 10.3389/fchem.2015.00066

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation through the Florida Coastal Everglades Long-Term Ecological Research program under Cooperative Agreements #DEB-1237517, #DBI-0620409, and #DEB-9910514. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.