, Volume 8, Issue 2-3, pp 197-207

Co-development of wetland soils and benthic invertebrate communities following salt marsh creation

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Abstract

The development of wetland soil characteristics andbenthic invertebrate communities were evaluated increated Spartina alterniflorasalt marshes inNorth Carolina ranging in age from 1 to 25 years-old.A combination of measurements from different-agecreated marshes as well as periodic measurements overtime on two marshes were used to (1) document rates ofwetland pedogenesis, especially soil organic matter,and, (2) explore relationships between soil andbenthic invertebrate community development. Soilmacro-organic matter (MOM, the living and dead rootand rhizome mat), organic C and N increased and bulkdensity decreased during the 25 years following marshestablishment. The most dramatic changes in bulkdensity, MOM, C and N occurred within the upper 10 cmof the soil with lesser changes below this depth.Created marshes were sinks for organic C (90–140g·m-2·yr-1) and N (7–11g·m-2·yr-1) but not for P (0–1g·m-2·yr-1). The density of benthicinvertebrates (>250 μm) and subsurface-depositfeeding oligochaetes also increased over time oncreated salt marshes. Invertebrate and oligochaetedensity were strongly related to MOM content(r2= 0.83–0.87) and soil organic C(r2= 0.52–0.82) and N (r2= 0.62–0.84). Thesefindings suggest that, in created salt marshes,development of the benthic invertebrate community istied to marsh soil formation, especially accumulationof organic matter as MOM and soil. Field studies thatmanipulate the quantity and quality of soil organicmatter are needed to elucidate the relationshipbetween salt marsh pedogenesis and benthicinvertebrate community development.