, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 399-408

Seasonal patterns of nitrification and denitrification in a natural and a restored salt marsh

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Seasonal patterns of microbially-mediated nitrogen cycling via the nitrification-denitrification pathway were compared between a natural and a restored salt marsh. Sedimentary denitrification rates, measured with a modification of the acetylene block technique, were approximately 44 times greater in the natural marsh relative to an adjacent transplanted marsh. Nitrification rates were similar at both sites. The difference in denitrification rates was attributed to oxygen inhibition at low tide and tidal flushing of porewater nutrients at high tide in the coarse sediments of the restored marsh. Denitrification was positively correlated with nitrification throughout the year in the natural marsh with a seasonal fall peak in denitrification corresponding to a maximum in porewater ammonia concentration. A weak correlation existed between the two processes in the restored marsh, where nitrification rates exceeded denitrification rates by a factor of 20. Transplanted marsh denitrification rates exhibited a spring peak, corresponding to elevated porewater ammonia concentrations. Our findings demonstrate functional differences in microbial nitrogen dynamics of a young (0–3 yr) restored marsh relative to a mature (>50 yr) salt-marsh system. *** DIRECT SUPPORT *** A01BY070 00008