The Role of Flow Velocity in the Vertical Distribution of Particulate Organic Matter on Moss-covered Travertine Barriers of the Plitvice Lakes (Croatia)
We investigated the distribution patterns of particulate organic matter (POM) on travertine barriers in respect to flow velocity. Research was conducted on the barrage-lake system of the Plitvice Lakes, Croatia. Four layers were distinguished within the substrate (moss mat + three travertine layers) in three hydraulic habitats at three sites. Substrate samples were collected monthly with a core sampler. The aim of the study was to explore the ability of moss mats and travertine substrate to accumulate POM; to ascertain the role of flow velocity and to produce a model of POM distribution pattern. The average of POM deposited in the 10 cm deep zone decreased significantly in the three sites along longitudinal profile of the system. Most POM was deposited in the moss mats, and the amounts decreased exponentially with depth. This was observed for coarse particulate organic matter (CPOM), ultra-fine particulate organic matter (UPOM) and total organic matter (TPOM) while fine organic matter (FPOM) deposition appeared unaffected by depth. More POM was accumulated in hydraulic habitats of low flow velocity. Correlation between flow velocity and POM accumulation was generally negative. Positive correlations between flow velocity and deposition rates were noted for CPOM in moss mats and top travertine layers; the deposition of other POM fractions was negatively influenced by the flow velocity. The influence of flow velocity decreased with increasing depth. In the deepest layers (7–10 cm) flow velocity influenced only the deposition of the smallest particles (UPOM).