, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 201-211

Fertilization Effects on Elevation Change and Belowground Carbon Balance in a Long Island Sound Tidal Marsh

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We report the results of a 5-year fertilization experiment in a central Long Island Sound salt marsh, aimed at understanding the impacts of high nutrient loads on marsh elevational processes. Fertilization with nitrogen led to some significant changes in marsh processes, specifically increases in aboveground primary production and in CO2 fluxes from the soil. However, neither nitrogen nor phosphorus fertilization led to elevation loss (relative to controls), reduced soil carbon, or a decrease in belowground primary production, all of which have been proposed as links between elevated nutrient loads and marsh drowning. Our data suggest that high nutrient levels increase gross carbon loss from the sediment, but that this is compensated for by other processes, leading to no net deleterious effect of nutrient loading on carbon storage or on marsh stability with respect to sea level rise.