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Differential effects of chronic and acute simulated seawater intrusion on tidal freshwater marsh carbon cycling.


ABSTRACT: Tidal freshwater ecosystems experience acute seawater intrusion associated with periodic droughts, but are expected to become chronically salinized as sea level rises. Here we report the results from an experimental manipulation in a tidal freshwater Zizaniopsis miliacea marsh on the Altamaha River, GA where diluted seawater was added to replicate marsh plots on either a press (constant) or pulse (2 months per year) basis. We measured changes in porewater chemistry (SO4 2-, Cl-, organic C, inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus), ecosystem CO2 and CH4 exchange, and microbial extracellular enzyme activity. We found that press (chronic) seawater additions increased porewater chloride and sulfate almost immediately, and ammonium and phosphate after 2-4 months. Chronic increases in salinity also decreased net ecosystem exchange, resulting in reduced CO2 and CH4 emissions from press plots. Our pulse treatment, designed to mimic natural salinity incursion in the Altamaha River (September and October), temporarily increased porewater ammonium concentrations but had few lasting effects on porewater chemistry or ecosystem carbon balance. Our findings suggest that long-term, chronic saltwater intrusion will lead to reduced C fixation and the potential for increased nutrient (N, P) export while acute pulses of saltwater will have temporary effects.

SUBMITTER: Herbert ER 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC6750722 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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