, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 989–999 | Cite as

The Carbon Balance of Two Riverine Wetlands Fifteen Years After Their Creation



Detailed carbon budgets from 2008 to 2010 were created for two 1-ha flow-through riverine wetlands created in 1994 adjacent to a third–order stream in central Ohio. Measurements were taken of dissolved non-purgeable organic carbon (NPOC), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), fine particulate organic carbon (FPOM), and coarse particulate organic carbon (CPOM). Methane emissions, soil sequestration, aquatic primary productivity, and macrophyte aboveground net primary productivity were also included in the carbon budget. The carbon budget successfully balanced inputs (1838 ± 41 g C m−2 year−1) and export/sequestration (1846 ± 59 g C m−2 year−1) with only a 0.5 % over estimation of export in relation to input; 12.8 % of the inflow was sequestered into the wetland soil. FPOM and CPOM concentrations and exports were positively correlated with hydrologic flow under most circumstances; NPOC and DIC concentrations were usually negatively or poorly correlated with hydrologic flow. In all seasons, except winter, the change of total carbon (NPOC, DIC, FPOM, and CPOM) concentration between inflow and outflow increased with increased hydrologic flow. Although carbon concentrations increased from inflow to outflow, the total surface water export of carbon is less than the inflow due to groundwater recharge from these perched wetlands.


Carbon Organic matter Carbon budget Riverine wetlands Carbon sequestration Olentangy River Wetland Research Park 



Support for this project came from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Agreements EM83329801-0 from Cincinnati OH and MX95413108-0 from Gulf of Mexico Program), National Science Foundation (CBET-1033451 and CBET-0829026), the Environmental Science Graduate Program and the Olentangy River Wetland Research Park at The Ohio State University, and the Everglades Wetland Research Park at Florida Gulf Coast University. We thank all the colleagues and friends who assisted with the field and laboratory research.


  1. Anderson CJ, Mitsch WJ (2006) Sediment, carbon, and nutrient accumulation at two 10-year-old created riverine marshes. Wetlands 26:779–792CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson JO, Nyberg L (2008) Spatial variation of wetlands and flux of dissolved organic carbon in boreal headwater streams. Hydrological Processes 22:1965–1975CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Asaeda T, Karunaratne S (2000) Dynamic modeling of the growth of Phragmites australis: model description. Aquatic Botany 67:301–318CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balcombe CK, Anderson JT, Fortney RH, Kordek WS (2005) Vegetation, invertebrate, and wildlife community ranking and habitat analysis of mitigation wetlands in West Virginia. Wetlands Ecology and Management 13:517–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bernal B, Mitsch WJ (2013) Carbon sequestration in two created riverine wetlands in the Midwestern United States. Journal of Environmental Quality. doi: 10.2134/jeq2012.0229 PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bridgham SD, Megonigal JP, Keller JK, Bliss NB, Trettin C (2006) The carbon balance of North American wetlands. Wetlands 26:889–916CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bridgham SD, Pastor J, Dewey B, Weltzin JF, Updegraff K (2008) Rapid carbon response of peatlands to climate change. Ecology 89:3041–3048CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Campbell DA, Cole CA, Brooks RP (2002) A comparison of created and natural wetlands in Pennsylvania, USA. Wetlands Ecology and Management 10:41–49Google Scholar
  9. Carroll P, Crill P (1997) Carbon balance of a temperate poor fen. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 11:349–356CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Clair TA, Arp P, Moore TR, Dalva M, Meng RF (2002) Gaseous carbon dioxide and methane, as well as dissolved organic carbon losses from a small temperate wetlands under a changing environment. Environmental Pollution 116:S143–S148PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cole JJ, Prairie YT, Caraco NF, McDowell WH, Tranvik LJ, Striegl RG, Duarte CM, Kortelainen P, Downing JA, Middelburg JJ, Melack J (2007) Plumbing the global carbon cycle: Integrating inland waters into the terrestrial carbon budget. Ecosystems 10:171–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cui J, Changsheng L, Trettin C (2005) Analyzing the ecosystem carbon and hydrologic characteristics of forested wetlands using a biogeochemical process model. Global Change Biology 11:278–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dahl TE, Johnson CE (1991) Wetlands-Status and trends in the conterminous United States, mid-1970’s to mid-1980’s. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C., 28 ppGoogle Scholar
  14. Davis SE III, Childers DL, Noe GB (2006) The contribution of leaching to the rapid release of nutrients and carbon in the early decay of wetland vegetation. Hydrobiologia 569:87–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Eimers M, Watmough SA, Buttle JM (2008) Long-term trends in dissolved organic carbon concentration: a cautionary note. Biogeochemistry 87:71–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fellman JB, Hood E, D’Amore DV, Edwards RT, White D (2009) Seasonal changes in the chemical quality and biodegradability of dissolved organic matter exported from soils to streams in coastal temperate rainforest watersheds. Biogeochemistry 95:277–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fenner N, Freeman C, Reynolds B (2005) Hydrological effects on the diversity of phenolic degrading bacteria in a peatland: implications for carbon cycling. Soil Biology and Biochemistry 37:1277–1287CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Francko DA, Whyte RS (1999) Midsummer photosynthetic carbon budget for Old Women Creek Wetland, Ohio: Relative contribution of aquatic macrophytes versus phytoplankton. Ohio Journal of Science 99:6–9Google Scholar
  19. Gorham E (1991) Northern peatlands: Role in the carbon cycle and probable responses to climate change. Ecological Applications 1:182–195Google Scholar
  20. Kendall C, Silva SR, Kelly VJ (2001) Carbon and nitrogen isotopic compositions of particulate organic matter in four large river systems across the United States. Hydrological Processes 15:1301–1346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Li MS, Lee SY (1998) Carbon dynamics of Deep Bay, eastern Pearl River Estuary, China. A mass balance budget and implications for shorebird conservation. Marine Ecology Progress Series 172:73–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Limpens J, Berendse F, Blodau C, Canadell JG, Freeman C, Holden J, Roulet N, Rydin H, Schaepman-Strub G (2008) Peatlands and the carbon cycle: local processes to global implications—a synthesis. Biogeosciences 5:1475–1491CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Liptak MA (2000) Water column productivity, calcite precipitation, and phosphorous dynamics in freshwater marshes. Dissertation, The Ohio State University, ColumbusGoogle Scholar
  24. Mitra S, Wassmann R, Vlek PLG (2005) An appraisal of global wetland area and its organic carbon stock. Current Science 88:23–35Google Scholar
  25. Mitsch WJ, Gosselink JG (2007) Wetlands, 4th edn. Wiley, HobokenGoogle Scholar
  26. Mitsch WJ, Wu X, Nairn RW, Weihe PE, Wang N, Deal R, Boucher CE (1998) Creating and restoring wetlands. Bioscience 48:1019–1039CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mitsch WJ, Wang N, Zhang L, Deal R, Wu X, Zuwerink A (2005a) Using ecological indicators in a whole-ecosystem wetland experiment. pp 211–235 In Jørgensen SE, Xu F-L, Costanza R (eds) Handbook of ecological indicators for assessment of ecosystem health, CRC Press, Boca RatonGoogle Scholar
  28. Mitsch WJ, Zhang L, Anderson CJ, Altor A, Hernandez M (2005b) Creating riverine wetlands: Ecological succession, nutrient retention, and pulsing effects. Ecological Engineering 25: 510–527Google Scholar
  29. Mitsch WJ, Zhang L, Stefanik KC, Nahlik AM, Anderson CJ, Bernal B, Hernandez M, Song K (2012) Creating wetlands: primary succession, water quality changes, and self-design over 15 years. BioScience 62:237–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mitsch WJ, Bernal B, Nahlik AM, Mander U, Zhang L, Anderson CJ, Jørgensen SE, Brix H (2013) Wetlands, carbon, and climate change. Landscape Ecology 28:583–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Moore HH, Neiring WA, Marsicano LJ, Dowdell M (1999) Vegetation change in created emergent wetlands (1988–1996) in Connecticut (USA). Wetlands Ecology and Management 7:177–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pastor J, Solin J, Bridgham SD, Updegraff K, Harth C, Weishampel P, Dewey B (2003) Global warming and the export of dissolved organic carbon from boreal peatlands. Oikos 100:380–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Piatek KB, Christopher SF, Mitchell MJ (2009) Spatial and temporal dynamics of stream chemistry in a forested watershed. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 13:423–439CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rivers JS, Siegel DI, Chasar LS, Chanton JP, Glaser PH, Roulet NT, McKenzie JM (1998) A stochastic appraisal of the annual carbon budget of a large circumboreal peatland, Rapid River Watershed, northern Minnesota. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 12:715–727CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Roulet NT (2000) Peatlands, carbon storage, greenhouse gases, and the Kyoto Protocol: prospects and significance for Canada. Wetlands 20:605–615CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Rouse WR, Lafleur PM, Bello RL, D’Souza A, Griffis TJ (2002) The annual carbon budget for fen and forest in a wetland at artic treeline. Arctic 55:229–237Google Scholar
  37. Schiff S, Aravena R, Mewhinney E, Elgood R, Warner B, Dillon P, Trumbore S (1998) Precambrian shield wetlands: hydrologic control of the sources and export of dissolved organic matter. Climatic Change 40:167–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Sha C, Mitsch WJ, Mander U, Lu J, Batson J, Zhang L, He W (2011) Methane emissions from freshwater riverine wetlands. Ecological Engineering 37:16–24Google Scholar
  39. Stern J, Wang Y, Gu B, Newman J (2007) Distribution and turnover of carbon in natural and constructed wetlands in the Florida Everglades. Applied Geochemstry 22:1936–1948CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Thomas JH (1997) The role of dissolved organic matter, particularly free amino acids and humic substances in freshwater ecosystems. Freshwater Biology 38:1–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tuttle CL, Zhang L, Mitsch WJ (2008) Aquatic metabolism as an indicator of the ecological effects of hydrologic pulsing in flow-through wetlands. Ecological Indicators 8:795–806Google Scholar
  42. Waddington JM, Roulet NT (1997) Groundwater flow and dissolved carbon movement in a boreal peatland. Journal of Hydrology 191:122–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Waddington JM, Roulet NT (2000) Carbon balance of a boreal pattern peatland. Global Change Biology 6:87–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Waletzko EJ, Mitsch WJ (in review) Methane emissions from wetlands: A comparison of two static accumulation chamber designs. Ecological EngineeringGoogle Scholar
  45. Wang Y, Hsieh YP, Landing WM, Choi YH, Salters V, Campbell D (2002) Chemical and carbon isotopic evidence for the source and fate of dissolved organic matter in the northern Everglades. Biogeochemistry 61:269–289CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wilson D, Alm J, Laine J, Byrne KA, Farrell EP, Tuittila ES (2009) Rewetting of cutaway peatlands: Are we re-creating hot spots of methane emissions? Restoration Ecology 17:796–806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Yan Y, Zhan B, Chen J, Guo H, Gu Y, Wu Q, Li B (2008) Closing the carbon budget of estuarine wetlands with tower-based measurements and MODIS time series. Global Change Biology 14:1690–1702CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Science Graduate ProgramThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Everglades Wetland Research ParkFlorida Gulf Coast UniversityNaplesUSA
  3. 3.Everglades Wetland Research ParkFlorida Gulf Coast UniversityNaplesUSA

Personalised recommendations