Linking freshwater tidal hydrology to carbon cycling in bottomland hardwood wetlands

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Abstract

Hydrology is recognized as one of the principal factors regulating soil biogeochemical processes in forested wetlands. However, the consequences of tidally mediated hydrology are seldom considered within forested wetlands that occur along tidal water bodies. These tidal water bodies may be either fresh or brackish, and the tidal streams function as a reservoir to sustain a shallow water table depth as compared to nontidal stream reaches. Accordingly, both the hydrology and water chemistry are expected to affect the forest carbon cycle; however, there are few studies to support this assertion. Hypotheses that are suggested by this hydrogeomorphic setting include greater net primary productivity and greenhouse gas emissions. However, given the persistent and dynamic high water table, it is important to consider micro-topography in quantifying greenhouse gas emissions, a functionality similar to boreal peatlands. A major constraint to assessing carbon cycle dynamics in tidally influenced forested wetlands is the lack of an accepted classification system and reliable spatial data base to indicate their spatial extent; this is particularly important for the upper tidal reaches where there is not a threat of changes in salinity associated with sea level rise. Advancing research to address this important part of the landscape is fundamental to addressing issues associated with sea level rise and the interaction of coastal development on estuaries.

  • Citation: Trettin, Carl C.; Czwartacki, Brooke J.; Allan, Craig J.; Amatya, Devendra M. 2016. Linking freshwater tidal hydrology to carbon cycling in bottomland hardwood wetlands. In: Stringer, Christina E.; Krauss, Ken W.; Latimer, James S., eds. 2016. Headwaters to estuaries: advances in watershed science and management -Proceedings of the Fifth Interagency Conference on Research in the Watersheds. March 2-5, 2015, North Charleston, South Carolina. e-General Technical  Report  SRS-211. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Southern Research Station. 7 p.

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