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Biogeochemistry

, Volume 82, Issue 3, pp 251–264 | Cite as

Effect of nutrient loading on biogeochemical and microbial processes in a New England salt marsh

  • Jane M. Caffrey
  • Michael C. Murrell
  • Cathleen Wigand
  • Richard McKinney
Original Paper

Abstract

Coastal marshes represent an important transitional zone between uplands and estuaries. One important function of marshes is to assimilate nutrient inputs from uplands, thus providing a buffer for anthropogenic nutrient loads. We examined the effects of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) fertilization on biogeochemical and microbial processes during the summer growing season in a Spartina patens (Aiton (Muhl.)) marsh in the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve on Prudence Island (RI). Quadruplicate 1 m2 plots were fertilized with N and P additions, N-only, P-only, or no additions. N-only addition significantly stimulated bacterial production and increased pore water NH 4 + and NO 3 concentrations. Denitrification rates ranged from 0 to 8 mmol m−2 day−1. Fertilization had no apparent effect on soil oxygen consumption or denitrification measured in the summer in intact cores due to high core-to-core variation. P fertilization led to increased pore water dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP) concentrations and increased DIP release from soils. In contrast the control and N-only treatments had significant DIP uptake across the soil-water interface. The results suggest that in the summer fertilization has no apparent effect on denitrification rates, stimulates bacterial productivity, enhances pore water nutrient concentrations and alters some nutrient fluxes across the marsh surface.

Keywords

Bacterial production Fertilization Denitrification Nitrogen Phosphorus Salt marsh 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Nick Baldauf and John Searles for their invaluable assistance in the field and laboratory. We thank Kenny Raposa, Roger Green and Al Beck for facilitating the implementation of the manipulative field experiment on the National Estuarine Research Reserve on Prudence Island. We thank Saro Jayaraman and Marty Chintala for their assistance in running nutrient analyses and Jeff Cornwell and Todd Kana for the use of their MIMS mass spectrometer for denitrification measurements. Jeff Chanton and anonymous reviewers provided useful suggestions to improve this manuscript. This report was funded in part by the US EPA’s Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology Division. US EPA Funding does not signify that the contents necessarily reflect the views and policies of the US EPA. Mention of trade names or commercial products does not constitute endorsement by the US EPA. Contribution No. 1211 US EPA, Gulf Breeze, FL, USA.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jane M. Caffrey
    • 1
  • Michael C. Murrell
    • 2
  • Cathleen Wigand
    • 3
  • Richard McKinney
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Environmental Diagnostics and BioremediationUniversity of West FloridaPensacolaUSA
  2. 2.Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Gulf Ecology DivisionUS EPAGulf BreezeUSA
  3. 3.Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Atlantic Ecology DivisionUS EPANarragansettUSA

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