To assess the biogeochemical effects of tidal restrictions on salt-marsh sulfur cycling and plant growth, cores of short-form Spartina alterniflora peat were desalinated and kept either waterlogged or drained in greenhouse microcosms. Changes in net Spartina production, and porewater and solid phase chemistry of treated cores were compared to natural conditions in the field collection site over a 21-mo period. Net production among treatments increased significantly in drained and waterlogged peat compared to field conditions during the first growing season. Constantly high sulfide in waterlogged cores accompanied reduced plant growth. Aeration invigorated growth in drained cores but led to oxidization of sulfide minerals and to lowered pH. During the second growing season, growth declined in the drained treatment, probably because of acidification and decreased dissolved inorganic nitrogen. Results are pertinent to the success of current wetland protection and restoration activities in the coastal zone.
Additional publication details
Short-term effects of salinity reduction and drainage on salt-marsh biogeochemical cycling and Spartina (Cordgrass) production