Water Level and Fire Regulate Carbon Sequestration in a Subtropical Peat Marsh
Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Managed wetlands provide valuable ecosystem services, including carbon storage. Management practices, such as water-level manipulation and prescribed fire, can have a profound effect on the carbon dynamics of these ecosystems. Fluxes of carbon dioxide have been measured by eddy covariance methods over a subtropical peat marsh in Florida, USA since 2009. During this 5-year period, the site has experienced hydroperiods ranging from nine to twelve months. Hydroperiod was found to affect net ecosystem productivity, which was relatively low (70-130 grams carbon per square meter) in years with periodic drying events and much higher (300-600 grams carbon per square meter) during years with constant marsh inundation. The site experienced a prescribed fire in Spring of 2014, which consumed approximately 80% of the aboveground biomass (800 grams carbon per square meter). In addition to the carbon released by the fire, photosynthetic uptake during what would normally be the most productive part of the year was reduced relative to previous years due to low leaf area. These results illustrate how management practices can affect carbon sequestration, which is important for both atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and maintenance of peat topography.