, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 343–352 | Cite as

Organic amendments improve soil conditions and denitrification in a restored riparian wetland

  • Ariana E. Sutton-Grier
  • Mengchi Ho
  • Curtis J. Richardson


Low soil organic matter (SOM) levels can limit nutrient cycling and plant growth in restored wetlands. This study examined how the addition of different amounts of compost at a restoration site in Charlotte, North Carolina, affected the development of soil properties, microbial communities, and plant growth and diversity. The stream and wetland restoration was completed in July 2004 and monitored for three years. Available nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) increased with increasing SOM. The microbial community responded to organic matter (OM) additions with increases in both total microbial biomass and microbial activity (as measured by denitrification potential). Plant community responses were less consistent. In 2004, leaf % N significantly increased with increasing OM for two species (Pontederia cordata and Sagittaria latifolia) while two other species (Acorus calamus and Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani) showed no relationship; in 2005, however, there was no relationship for any of the species. We also found no relationship between total plant aboveground biomass and % SOM measured in 2006. We found negative relationships between species richness and % SOM in 2004 and 2006, but not in 2005. These results suggest that compost amendments are an effective method for improving soil properties, stimulating microbial communities, and can improve some ecosystem functions, such as nutrient cycling, but may have limited early effects on plant communities.

Key Words

compost amendments denitrification potential (DEA) microbial biomass plant biomass plant diversity soil organic matter (SOM) species richness wetland restoration 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Anderson, C. J. and B. C. Cowell. 2004. Mulching effects on the seasonally flooded zone of west-central Florida, USA wetlands. Wetlands 24: 811–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bailey, D. E., J. E. Perry, and W. L. Daniels. 2007. Vegetation dynamics in response to organic matter loading rates in a created freshwater wetland in southeastern Virginia. Wetlands 27: 936–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brookes, P. C., A. Landman, G. Pruden, and D. S. Jenkinson. 1985. Chloroform fumigation and the release of soil-nitrogen — a rapid direct extraction method to measure microbial biomass nitrogen in soil. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 17: 837–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bruland, G. L. and C. J. Richardson. 2004. Hydrologic gradients and topsoil additions affect soil properties of Virginia created wetlands. Soil Science Society of America Journal 68: 2069–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bruland, G. L., C. J. Richardson, and S. C. Whalen. 2006. Spatial variability of denitrification potential and related soil properties in created, restored, and paired natural wetlands. Wetlands 26: 1042–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clewell, A. F. and R. Lea. 1989. Creation and restoration of forested wetland vegetation in the Southeastern United States. p. 199–229. In J. A. Kusler and M. E. Kentula (eds.) Wetland Creation and Restoration: The Status of the Science, Vol. 1. Island Press, Washington, DC, USA.Google Scholar
  7. Cole, C. A., R. P. Brooks, and D. H. Wardrop. 2001. Assessing the relationship between biomass and soil organic matter in created wetlands of central Pennsylvania, USA. Ecological Engineering 17: 423–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Craft, C., S. Broome, and C. Campbell. 2002. Fifteen years of vegetation and soil development after brackish-water marsh creation. Restoration Ecology 10: 248–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Craft, C. B., S. W. Broome, and E. D. Seneca. 1988. Nitrogen, phosphorus and organic-carbon pools in natural and transplanted marsh soils. Estuaries 11: 272–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Craft, C., J. Reader, J. N. Sacco, and S. W. Broome. 1999. Twenty-five years of ecosystem development of constructed Spartina alterniflora (Loisel) marshes. Ecological Applications 9: 1405–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fitzpatrick, R. W. 2004. Changes in soil and water characteristics of some natural, drained and re-flooded soils in the Mesopotamian marshlands: Implications for land management planning. Restricted Report for the Iraq Marshlands Restration Program funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAIO) contracted under the Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI Water Indefinite Quantity Contract (IQC). CSIRO Land and Water Client Report.Google Scholar
  12. Gilliam, J. W. 1994. Riparian wetlands and water quality. Journal of Environmental Quality 23: 896–900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Groffman, P. M., E. A. Axelrod, J. L. Lemunyon, and W. M. Sullivan. 1991. Denitrification in grass and forest vegetated filter strips. Journal of Environmental Quality 20: 671–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Groffman, P. M., G. C. Hanson, E. Kiviat, and G. Stevens. 1996. Variation in microbial biomass and activity in four different wetland types. Soil Science Society of America Journal 60: 622–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Groffman, P. N., E. A. Holland, D. D. Myrold, G. P. Robertson, and X. Zou. 1999. Denitrification. p. 272–88. In G. P. Robertson, D. C. Coleman, C. S. Bledsoe, and P. Sollins (eds.) Standard Soil Methods for Long-Term Ecological Research. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.Google Scholar
  16. Handa, I. T. and R. L. Jefferies. 2000. Assisted revegetation trials in degraded salt-marshes. Journal of Applied Ecology 37: 944–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hill, A. R. and M. Cardaci. 2004. Denitrification and organic carbon availability in riparian wetland soils and subsurface sediments. Soil Science Society of America Journal 68: 320–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lou, Y. S., L. X. Ren, Z. P. Li, T. L. Zhang, and K. Inubushi. 2007. Effect of rice residues on carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions from a paddy soil of subtropical China. Water Air and Soil Pollution 178: 157–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Mitsch, W. J. and J. G. Gosselink. 2000. Wetlands, third edition. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, USA.Google Scholar
  20. O’Brien, E. L. and J. B. Zedler. 2006. Accelerating the restoration of vegetation in a southern California salt marsh. Wetlands Ecology and Management 14: 269–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Richardson, C. J., P. Reiss, N. A. Hussain, A. J. Alwash, and D. J. Pool. 2005. The restoration potential of the Mesopotamian marshes of Iraq. Science 307: 1307–11.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Saison, C., V. Degrange, R. Oliver, P. Millard, C. Commeaux, D. Montange, and X. Le Roux. 2006. Alteration and resilience of the soil microbial community following compost amendment: effects of compost level and compost-borne microbial community. Environmental Microbiology 8: 247–57.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Schipper, L. A., C. G. Harfoot, P. N. McFarlane, and A. B. Cooper. 1994. Anaerobic decomposition and denitrification during plant decomposition in an organic soil. Journal of Environmental Quality 23: 923–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shaffer, P. W. and T. L. Ernst. 1999. Distribution of soil organic matter in freshwater emergent/open water wetlands in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. Wetlands 19: 505–16.Google Scholar
  25. Simenstad, C. A. and R. M. Thom. 1996. Functional equivalency trajectories of the restored Gog-Le-Hi-Te estuarine wetland. Ecological Applications 6: 38–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Smith, M. S. and J. M. Tiedje. 1979. Phases of denitrification following oxygen depletion in soil. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 11: 261–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Stauffer, A. L. and R. P. Brooks. 1997. Plant and soil responses to salvaged marsh surface and organic matter amendments at a created wetland in central Pennsylvania. Wetlands 17: 90–105.Google Scholar
  28. Taylor, J. P., B. Wilson, M. S. Mills, and R. G. Burns. 2002. Comparison of microbial numbers and enzymatic activities in surface soils and subsoils using various techniques. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 34: 387–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Tiessen, H. and J. O. Moir. 1993. Characterization of available P by sequential extraction. p. 293–306. In M. R. Carter (ed.) Soil Sampling and Methods of Analysis. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  30. van der Valk, A. G., T. L. Bremholm, and E. Gordon. 1999. The Restoration of Sedge Meadows: Seed Viability, Seed Germination Requirements, and Seedling Growth of Carex Species. Wetlands 19: 756–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Vellidis, G., R. Lowrance, P. Gay, and R. K. Hubbard. 2003. Nutrient transport in a restored riparian wetland. Journal of Environmental Quality 32: 711–26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Vidon, P. G. F. and A. R. Hill. 2004. Landscape controls on the hydrology of stream riparian zones. Journal of Hydrology 292: 210–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vitousek, P. M. 1997. Human domination of Earth’s ecosystems. Science 278: 21.Google Scholar
  34. Voroney, R. P. and J. P. Winter. 1993. Soil microbial biomass C and N. p. 277–86. In M. R. Carter (ed.) Soil Sampling Methods of Analysis. Lewis Publishers, Boca Raton, FL, USA.Google Scholar
  35. Zedler, J. B. 2000. Progress in wetland restoration ecology. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 15: 402–07.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zedler, J. B. 2003. Wetlands at your service: reducing impacts of agriculture at the watershed scale. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 1: 65–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zedler, J. B. and R. Langis. 1991. Comparisons of constructed and natural salt marshes of San Diego Bay. Restoration & Management Notes 9: 21–25.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ariana E. Sutton-Grier
    • 1
  • Mengchi Ho
    • 1
  • Curtis J. Richardson
    • 1
  1. 1.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

Personalised recommendations