Does lake size matter? Combining morphology and process modeling to examine the contribution of lake classes to population-scale processes

Inland Waters
By: , and 

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Abstract

With lake abundances in the thousands to millions, creating an intuitive understanding of the distribution of morphology and processes in lakes is challenging. To improve researchers’ understanding of large-scale lake processes, we developed a parsimonious mathematical model based on the Pareto distribution to describe the distribution of lake morphology (area, perimeter and volume). While debate continues over which mathematical representation best fits any one distribution of lake morphometric characteristics, we recognize the need for a simple, flexible model to advance understanding of how the interaction between morphometry and function dictates scaling across large populations of lakes. These models make clear the relative contribution of lakes to the total amount of lake surface area, volume, and perimeter. They also highlight the critical thresholds at which total perimeter, area and volume would be evenly distributed across lake size-classes have Pareto slopes of 0.63, 1 and 1.12, respectively. These models of morphology can be used in combination with models of process to create overarching “lake population” level models of process. To illustrate this potential, we combine the model of surface area distribution with a model of carbon mass accumulation rate. We found that even if smaller lakes contribute relatively less to total surface area than larger lakes, the increasing carbon accumulation rate with decreasing lake size is strong enough to bias the distribution of carbon mass accumulation towards smaller lakes. This analytical framework provides a relatively simple approach to upscaling morphology and process that is easily generalizable to other ecosystem processes.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Does lake size matter? Combining morphology and process modeling to examine the contribution of lake classes to population-scale processes
Series title Inland Waters
DOI 10.5268/IW-5.1.740
Volume 5
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Freshwater Biological Association
Contributing office(s) Center for Integrated Data Analytics
Description 8 p.
First page 7
Last page 14
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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