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Long-term cultivation impact on the heavy metal behavior in a reclaimed wetland, Northeast China



Heavy metal fractionation varies according to land uses. To understand the behavior of heavy metals in wetland soils under long-term agricultural cultivation, we examined the distribution, source, and associated environmental risk of heavy metals in different types of wetland soils.

Materials and methods

Soils were collected in cultivated lands, artificial ditches, and riparian zones from a reclaimed wetland in the Sanjiang Plain, Northeast China. They were analyzed for total concentrations and chemical fractions of Pb, Cd, Cu, Zn, Cr, and Ni, as well as pH, soil organic matter, total phosphorus, and particle size distribution.

Results and discussion

Heavy metal concentrations were significantly lower in cultivated wetland than in ditch and riparian wetlands. Riparian wetland was found to exhibit the highest metal concentrations. When compared with other two wetland types, the cultivated wetland showed much higher partitioning levels of heavy metals in the acid-soluble fraction and lower partitioning levels in the oxidizable fraction. Although Cr, Cu, and Ni in ditch and riparian wetlands were identified as the metal pollutants of primary concern, they had a low or no risk of further dispersion to other environmental components. Weathering of parent materials was the main source of Cr and Cu, Pb, Cd, and Zn originated mainly from agricultural practices, and Ni emanated from a mixture of sources.


Long-term agricultural cultivation can lead to significant heavy metal loss in cultivated wetland but enrich heavy metal concentrations in ditch and riparian wetlands. Periodic ditch dredging is considered an effective measure for decreasing heavy metal input into the fluvial system and thereby reducing the dispersion to the regional water environment.

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This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41271463, 40930740), the Supporting Program of the “Twelfth Five-year Plan” for Science & Technology Research of China (2012BAD15B05), and the National Science Foundation for Innovative Research Group (No. 51121003).

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Correspondence to Wei Ouyang.

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Responsible editor: Jaco Vangronsveld

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Jiao, W., Ouyang, W., Hao, F. et al. Long-term cultivation impact on the heavy metal behavior in a reclaimed wetland, Northeast China. J Soils Sediments 14, 567–576 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11368-013-0812-1

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  • Heavy metal
  • Chemical fraction
  • Environmental risk
  • Source
  • Wetland soils