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Sources and concentrations of vascular plant material in sediments of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, USA

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Samples of surface sediment from Buzzards Bay and creek sediment from Great Sippewissett Marsh were analyzed for lignin and stable carbon isotope composition in 1984. The lack of change in composition of lignins in detritus of Spartina alterniflora over two years of decomposition and similar aldehyde/acid ratios of lignin oxidation products of plant and sediment samples indicated minimal diagenesis of lignins in sediments. Remains of non-woody angiosperm tissues made up the bulk of the vascular plant debris in Great Sippewissett Marsh and Buzzards Bay sediments. These plant remains were evenly distributed over the sampling area in Buzzards Bay. Based on model calculations, salt marshes potentially contributed a significant fraction of the total amount of vascular plant debris in coastal marine sediments. The bulk of the organic matter in Buzzards Bay sediments, however, was derived from phytoplankton; vascular plant remains made up only 5 to 7% of the total amount of organic carbon in these sediments.

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Communicated by J. M. Lawrence, Tampa

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Wilson, J.O., Valiela, I. & Swain, T. Sources and concentrations of vascular plant material in sediments of Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, USA. Marine Biology 90, 129–137 (1985).

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  • Phytoplankton
  • Lignin
  • Isotope Composition
  • Salt Marsh
  • Vascular Plant