Distributions of bacterial and archaeal membrane lipids in surface sediments reflect differences in input and loss of terrestrial organic carbon along a cross-shelf Arctic transect

Ayça Doğrul Selver, Robert B. Sparkes, Juliane Bischoff, Helen M. Talbot, Örjan Gustafsson, Igor P. Semiletov, Oleg V. Dudarev, Stephen Boult, Bart E. van Dongen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)


Enhanced climate warming affecting the Arctic region could have a dramatic impact on the terrigenous organic carbon (terrOC) stored in the Eurasian permafrost and could increase the amount of OC remobilized to the Arctic shelves. An improved understanding of the fate of this remobilized soil OC is essential for better understanding of the consequences for the Arctic and global carbon cycle. In this study, glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraethers (GDGTs) and bacteriohopanepolyols (BHPs) in surface sediments along a 500km cross shelf transect from the mouth of the Kolyma River to the middle of the vast East Siberian Sea were analysed to assess their potential and that of the associated branched and isoprenoid tetraether (BIT) and R'soil indices for tracing terrOC in Arctic systems. Both BHP and GDGT contributions indicated the greatest contribution of terrOC close to the river mouth, while the associated indices showed declining trends in an offshore direction, supporting an increasing marine OC input and/or a decrease in terrOC. However, while the BHPs indicated a dominance of terrOC at the start of the transect, the GDGTs suggested a much larger, almost 50%, marine OC input at this point. In addition, the BIT index displayed an exponential decline, controlled mainly by a substantial contribution of marine GDGTs, while R'soil revealed a linear trend governed primarily by the removal of soil marker BHPs. These field results suggest that both biomarker approaches could be used to trace terrigenous derived OC in the Arctic environment. However, using a single proxy approach is not recommended and may lead to an under or over estimation of the relative importance of terrOC. Using a multi-proxy approach is valuable for fully understanding the fate of terrigenous derived OC along Arctic land-ocean transects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-26
Number of pages11
JournalOrganic Geochemistry
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015



  • Bacteriohopanepolyols
  • BIT
  • East Siberian Sea
  • Glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether
  • Kolyma River
  • R'<inf>soil</inf>
  • River-sea transect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

Cite this