Estimating Carbon Stocks and Atmospheric Exchange of Depressional Marshes on the Central Florida Landscape

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Brian Benscoter, Matthew D McClellan, Victor Benavides, Diane Harshbarger and Xavier Comas, Florida Atlantic University, Davie, FL, United States
Depressional marshes are ubiquitous throughout central and south Florida. Often distributed within a matrix of sandy pine flatwoods and hammocks, these wetlands have a seasonally variable water table, alternating between inundation and complete drydown. Though these landforms are typically small individually, they comprise a substantial component of the landscape and provide vital habitat for an array of flora and fauna. Given their fluctuating hydrology, conditions for soil and plant carbon (C) exchange mechanisms can vary greatly both spatially and temporally. In this study, we are developing a C budget for depressional marsh landforms by assessing ecosystem carbon exchange along an ecotone gradient and quantifying belowground C stocks using non-invasive geophysical methods (ground penetrating radar, GPR) at the Disney Wilderness Preserve (DWP) in Kissimmee, FL, USA. Using a series of closed chambers transecting the marsh from the center outward into the surrounding flatwoods, we are quantifying the effects of seasonal water table change on the magnitude of C exchange. Three dimensional GPR surveys were used to quantify peat layer thickness, and were constrained with direct core sampling to verify subsurface lithology and to assess peat C content. Using the relationship between landform surface area and belowground C volume, we assessed the cumulative C storage in depressional marshes across the DWP landscape. In conjunction with a nearby eddy covariance tower and seasonal hydrologic data, these response functions will help to evaluate the contribution of these small but widespread landscape features on regional C cycling.