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Chemical Biomarkers in Aquatic Ecosystems$
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Thomas S. Bianchi and Elizabeth A. Canuel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691134147

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691134147.001.0001

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Chemical Biomarker Applications to Ecology and Paleoecology

Chemical Biomarker Applications to Ecology and Paleoecology

Chapter:
(p.19) 2. Chemical Biomarker Applications to Ecology and Paleoecology
Source:
Chemical Biomarkers in Aquatic Ecosystems
Author(s):

Thomas S. Bianchi

Elizabeth A. Canuel

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691134147.003.0002

This chapter provides a brief historical account of the success and limitations of using chemical biomarkers in aquatic ecosystems. It also introduces the general concepts of chemical biomarkers as they relate to global biogeochemical cycling. The application of chemical biomarkers in modern and/or ancient ecosystems is largely a function of the inherent structure and stability of the molecule, as well as the physicochemical environment of the system wherein it exists. In some cases, redox changes in sediments have allowed for greater preservation of biomarker compounds; in well-defined laminated sediments; for example, a strong case can be made for paleo-reconstruction of past organic matter composition sources. However, many of the labile chemical biomarkers may be lost or transformed within minutes to hours of being released from the cell from processes such as bacterial and/or metazoan grazing, cell lysis, and photochemical breakdown. The role of trophic effects versus large-scale physiochemical gradients in preserving or destroying the integrity of chemical biomarkers varies greatly across different ecosystems. These effects are discussed as they relate to aquatic systems such as lakes, estuaries, and oceans.

Keywords:   chemical biomarkers, aquatic ecosystems, global biogeochemical cycling, trophic effects, physiochemical gradients

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