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Sediment and carbon deposition vary among vegetation assemblages in a coastal salt marsh

Kelleway, Jeffrey J., Saintilan, Neil, Macreadie, Peter I., Baldock, Jeffrey A. and Ralph, Peter J. 2017, Sediment and carbon deposition vary among vegetation assemblages in a coastal salt marsh, Biogeosciences, vol. 14, no. 16, pp. 3763-3779, doi: 10.5194/bg-14-3763-2017.

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Title Sediment and carbon deposition vary among vegetation assemblages in a coastal salt marsh
Author(s) Kelleway, Jeffrey J.
Saintilan, Neil
Macreadie, Peter I.ORCID iD for Macreadie, Peter I. orcid.org/0000-0001-7362-0882
Baldock, Jeffrey A.
Ralph, Peter J.
Journal name Biogeosciences
Volume number 14
Issue number 16
Start page 3763
End page 3779
Total pages 17
Publisher Copernicus GmbH
Place of publication Goettingen, Germany
Publication date 2017-08-17
ISSN 1726-4170
1726-4189
Summary Coastal salt marshes are dynamic, intertidal ecosystems that are increasingly being recognised for their contributions to ecosystem services, including carbon (C) accumulation and storage. The survival of salt marshes and their capacity to store C under rising sea levels, however, is partially reliant upon sedimentation rates and influenced by a combination of physical and biological factors. In this study, we use several complementary methods to assess short-term (days) deposition and medium-term (months) accretion dynamics within a single marsh that contains three salt marsh vegetation types common throughout southeastern (SE) Australia.

We found that surface accretion varies among vegetation assemblages, with medium-term (19 months) bulk accretion rates in the upper marsh rush (Juncus) assemblage (1.74 ± 0.13 mm yr−1) consistently in excess of estimated local sea-level rise (1.15 mm yr−1). Accretion rates were lower and less consistent in both the succulent (Sarcocornia, 0.78 ± 0.18 mm yr−1) and grass (Sporobolus, 0.88 ± 0.22 mm yr−1) assemblages located lower in the tidal frame. Short-term (6 days) experiments showed deposition within Juncus plots to be dominated by autochthonous organic inputs with C deposition rates ranging from 1.14 ± 0.41 mg C cm−2 d−1 (neap tidal period) to 2.37 ± 0.44 mg C cm−2 d−1 (spring tidal period), while minerogenic inputs and lower C deposition dominated Sarcocornia (0.10 ± 0.02 to 0.62 ± 0.08 mg C cm−2 d−1) and Sporobolus (0.17 ± 0.04 to 0.40 ± 0.07 mg C cm−2 d−1) assemblages.

Elemental (C : N), isotopic (δ13C), mid-infrared (MIR) and 13C nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analyses revealed little difference in either the source or character of materials being deposited among neap versus spring tidal periods. Instead, these analyses point to substantial redistribution of materials within the Sarcocornia and Sporobolus assemblages, compared to high retention and preservation of organic inputs in the Juncus assemblage. By combining medium-term accretion quantification with short-term deposition measurements and chemical analyses, we have gained novel insights into above-ground biophysical processes that may explain previously observed regional differences in surface dynamics among key salt marsh vegetation assemblages. Our results suggest that Sarcocornia and Sporobolus assemblages may be particularly susceptible to changes in sea level, though quantification of below-ground processes (e.g. root production, compaction) is needed to confirm this.
Language eng
DOI 10.5194/bg-14-3763-2017
Field of Research 040310 Sedimentology
050301 Carbon Sequestration Science
069999 Biological Sciences not elsewhere classified
04 Earth Sciences
05 Environmental Sciences
06 Biological Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2017, The Authors
Free to Read? Yes
Use Rights Creative Commons Attribution licence
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30103967

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.