, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 245-251

Comparison of Soil Organic Matter in Created, Restored and Paired Natural Wetlands in North Carolina

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Abstract

Soil organic matter (SOM) content is a key indicator of soil quality and is correlated to a number of important soil processes that occur in wetlands such as respiration, denitrification, and phosphorus sorption. To better understand the differences in the SOM content of created (CW), restored (RW), and paired natural wetlands (NWs), 11 CW/RW-NW pairs were sampled in North Carolina. The site pairs spanned a range of hydrogeomorphic (HGM) subclasses common in the Coastal Plain. The following null hypotheses were tested: (1) SOM content of paired CW/RWs and NWs are similar; (2) SOM content of wetlands across different HGM subclasses is similar; and (3) interactions between wetland status (CW/RW vs. NW) and hydrogeomorphic subclass are similar. The first null hypothesis was rejected as CW/RWs had significantly lower mean SOM (11.8 ± 3.9%) than their paired NWs (28.98 ± 8.0%) on average and at 10 out of the 11 individual sites. The second and third null hypotheses were also rejected as CW/RWs and NWs in the non-riverine organic soil flat subclass had significantly higher mean SOM content (31.08 ± 14.2%) than the other three subclasses (8.18 ± 2.5, 11.18 ± 8.2, and 10.38 ± 4.2%). Individual sites within this fourth subclass also had significantly different SOM content. This indicated that it would be inappropriate to include the organic soil flat subclass with either the riverine or non-riverine mineral soil flat subclasses when considering restoration guidelines. These results also suggested that if there is a choice in mitigation options between restoration or creation, wetlands should be restored rather than created, especially those in the non-riverine organic soil flat subclass.