, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 25-37

Nitrogen flows in Louisiana Gulf Coast salt marsh: Spatial considerations

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Abstract

Nitrogen flux data was synthesized in developing a nitrogen flow budget for a Louisiana Barataria BasinSpartina alterniflora salt marsh. Results demonstrate the importance of spatial consideration in developing a nitrogen budget for coastal marshes. Using a mass balance approach nitrogen inputs balanced nitrogen sinks or losses from a marsh soil-plant system with a specific rooting depth. However, per unit areas on a local scale, marshes serve as a large sink for nitrogen due to rapid accretion which removes 17.O g N m−2yr−1 through subsidence below the root zone. On a larger spatial scale (regional) it is shown that the marshes do not serve as a large nitrogen sink. The rapid marsh deterioration currently occurring in the rapidly subsiding marshes of the Mississippi River deltaic plain account for a net regional loss of 12.5 g N m−2yr−1. Thus, regionally the net sink is equivalent to only 5 g N m−2yr−1 as compared to 17.0 g N m−2yr−1 on a local scale.