Effects of Flooding and Warming on Soil Organic Matter Mineralization in Avicennia germinans Mangrove Forests and Juncus roemerianus Salt Marshes

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carbon, coastal wetlands, flooding, florida, nitrogen, salt springs run estuary, sea level changes, soil respiration, usa, west-central peninsular florida

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Under a changing climate, coastal wetlands experience sea level rise, warming, and vegetation change, all of which may influence organic matter mineralization. In coastal wetlands of subtropical west-central Florida (USA), we investigated how soil carbon (C) and nitrogen (N) mineralization respond to soil water, temperature, and ecosystem type (Avicennia germinans mangrove forest vs. Juncus roemerianus salt marsh). We evaluated how soil respiration and mineral N concentration varied along a soil moisture gradient, and whether these relationships differed between ecosystem types. Then, we manipulated soils in a 28-d laboratory incubation to evaluate how potentially mineralizable C and N respond to temperature (23 vs. 27 °C), soil hydroperiod (inundated 4 vs. 20 h/d), and soil source. Soil saturation and inundation suppressed short-term (minutes to weeks) C mineralization from near-surface soils. Soil CO2 efflux declined by 65% as soil moisture increased from 75% to 85%, and potentially mineralizable C was 18% lower with a 20-h hydroperiod than with a 4-h hydroperiod. Organic C quality appears to be greater in A. germinans than in J. roemerianus soils, as A. germinans soils had higher field CO2 efflux rates and greater mineralizable C:N (despite lower total C:N). Increasing incubation temperature from 23 to 27 °C elevated potentially mineralizable C by 40%, indicating that two symptoms of climate change (increased inundation from sea level rise, and warming) may have opposing effects on soil C mineralization. Temperature sensitivity of C mineralization was high for long-hydroperiod soils, however, suggesting that protection of soil organic matter (SOM) due to prolonged inundation will be undermined by warming. Potentially mineralizable N was greater in J. roemerianus soils, although in situ mineral N was not different between ecosystems, instead correlating positively with SOM. These results indicate that models forecasting soil elevation responses to climate change might include inundation effects on mineralization rates.

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Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, v. 139, p. 11-19