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Hydrogeomorphic controls on soil carbon composition in two classes of subalpine wetlandsAuthor(s): Ellen E. Daugherty; Georgina A. McKee; Robert Bergstrom; Sarah Burton; Celine Pallud; Robert M. Hubbard; Eugene F. Kelly; Charles C. Rhoades; Thomas Borch
Source: Biogeochemistry. 145: 161-175.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Southern Research Station
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DescriptionWetlands play a vital role in terrestrial carbon (C) sequestration, but the sensitivity of their C stocks to disturbance remains uncertain, requiring enhanced understanding of the processes that govern C storage and removal. The unique conditions in wetlands from different hydrogeomorphic (HGM) classes likely regulate the cycling, storage and vulnerabilities of wetland soil C stocks. To determine how differences in hydrogeomorphic setting influence soil organic carbon (SOC) processing, we compared C content and composition between depressional and slope wetlands located in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Isolated depressional wetlands were characterized by seasonally declining water tables, slow discharge, high clay content, and thick organic horizons. Slope wetlands received perennial groundwater inputs and had coarser soil textures and thinner organic horizons. Seasonal snowmelt inputs coupled with low hydrologic discharge and higher clay content in depressional wetlands were predicted to sustain anoxic conditions, leading to high SOC content and chemically reduced C compounds. Depressional wetland soils had higher SOC content at depth and higher porewater DOC concentrations compared to slope wetland soils. Solid-state 13C nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy demonstrated that aliphatic compounds were the dominant SOC component in depressional wetlands compared to aromatic C forms in the slope wetlands. The higher prevalence of aliphatic carbon in depressional wetland soils suggests that stored SOC is protected by anaerobic conditions to a greater extent than in the slope wetlands, and that this SOC may be more vulnerable to drying and oxic conditions associated with wetland drainage and climate change.
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CitationDaugherty, Ellen E.; McKee, Georgina A.; Bergstrom, Robert; Burton, Sarah; Pallud, Celine; Hubbard, Robert M.; Kelly, Eugene F.; Rhoades, Charles C.; Borch, Thomas. 2019. Hydrogeomorphic controls on soil carbon composition in two classes of subalpine wetlands. Biogeochemistry. 145: 161-175.
Keywords13C NMR, decomposition, soil organic carbon, wetlands
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