Wetland ecosystems are profoundly affected by altered nutrient and sediment loads received from anthropogenic activity in their surrounding watersheds. Our objective was to compare a gradient of agricultural and urban land cover history during the period from 1949 to 1997, with plant and soil nutrient concentrations in, and sediment deposition to, riparian wetlands in a rapidly urbanizing landscape. We observed that recent agricultural land cover was associated with increases in Nitrogen (N) and Phosphorus (P) concentrations in a native wetland plant species. Conversely, recent urban land cover appeared to alter receiving wetland environmental conditions by increasing the relative availability of P versus N, as reflected in an invasive, but not a native, plant species. In addition, increases in surface soil Fe content suggests recent inputs of terrestrial sediments associated specifically with increasing urban land cover. The observed correlation between urban land cover and riparian wetland plant tissue and surface soil nutrient concentrations and sediment deposition, suggest that urbanization specifically enhances the suitability of riparian wetland habitats for the invasive species Japanese stiltgrass [Microstegium vimenium (Trinius) A. Camus]. ?? 2009 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
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Recent land cover history and nutrient retention in riparian wetlands