, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 45-53

The effect of cultivation on sediment composition and deposition in prairie pothole wetlands

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Texture, major nutrient content, and deposition rate of sediments were compared for five prairie pothole wetlands surrounded by native grassland and seven otherwise similar wetlands surrounded by row crop and small grain farmland. Specific differences in the nature of the sedimentation cycle of cultivated and noncultivated watersheds were indicated. Flux of total inorganic material into sediments averaged 80 and 43 mg cm−2 yr−1 in cultivated and grassland wetlands, respectively. Cultivated sediments contained significantly higher clay percentages, but lower percentages of silt and sand than grassland sediments. Deposition rates of clay at cultivated sites averaged five times that of grassland locations. Enrichment ratios (the quotient of sediment concentration divided by upland soil concentrations) suggested that sand was selectively retained in equal proportions on uplands in both types of watersheds, that silt was selectively removed (although in different proportions) from uplands in both types of watersheds, and that clay was selectively retained only on grasslands. Total N and organic matter concentrations were significantly higher in both the soils and sediments of grassland watersheds, but there were no differences in total P concentrations with respect to land use. Sediment flux rates for total N and organic matter were similar in the two land use types; however, P was transported at nearly twice the rate to cultivated wetlands. Enrichment ratios indicated that N and P were selectively removed in similar proportions from upland soils in both types of watersheds.