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Riverine particulate organic matter (POM) samples were collected bi-weekly to monthly from 40 sites in the Mississippi, Colorado, Rio Grande, and Columbia River Basins (USA) in 1996–97 and analysed for carbon and nitrogen stable isotopic compositions. These isotopic compositions and C : N ratios were used to identify four endmember sources of POM: plankton, fresh terrestrial plant material, aquatic plants, and soil organic material. This large-scale study also incorporated ancillary chemical and hydrologic data to refine and extend the interpretations of POM sources beyond the source characterizations that could be done solely with isotopic and elemental ratios. The ancillary data were especially useful for differentiating...