Dataset: Factors influencing blue carbon accumulation across a 32‐year chronosequence of created coastal marshes
datasetposted on 01.11.2019 by Katherine M Abbott, Tracy Quirk, Ronald D. Delaune
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Saline coastal marshes are blue carbon ecosystems with relatively high soil carbon (C) stocks and high rates of soil C accumulation. Loss of saline wetlands due to relative sea‐level rise, land‐use change, and hydrologic alterations liberates previously stored C and reduces the capacity for future C sequestration. Widespread wetland loss has prompted marsh restoration and creation projects around the world; however, little is known about the timescale and capacity for created marshes to function as blue C sinks and the role of environmental conditions in mediating soil C accumulation in restoration sites. Using a chronosequence of five created saline marshes ranging in age from 5 to 32 yr and two adjacent natural reference marshes in southwest Louisiana, USA, short‐ and longer‐term C accumulation rates (SCAR and LCAR, respectively) were determined using feldspar marker horizons and peat depth in cores at six locations in each marsh. Created marshes ranged in elevation from −12 to 41 cm (NAVD88) and supported assorted plant community compositions driven by local environmental conditions. SCAR ranged from 75 to 430 g C·m−2·yr−1, which were comparable in the two youngest and two oldest marshes. Longer‐term CAR ranged from 18 to 99 g C·m−2·yr−1 but did not significantly differ among marshes of different ages. Our findings indicate that LCAR in these created marshes were influenced by site‐specific environmental conditions (i.e., stem density and mineral sediment) rather than marsh age. Results suggest that conditions appropriate for the establishment of vegetation with high stem densities, such as Distichlis spicata and Spartina patens, may facilitate higher LCAR in created marshes, which may be useful for restoration project planning and mitigation of climate change.