Carbon storage potential by four macrophytes as affected by planting diversity in a created wetland.

Carbon storage potential by four macrophytes as affected by planting diversity in a created wetland.
Means MM, Ahn C, Korol AR, Williams LD
Publication Date
2016 Jan 01

Wetland creation has become a commonplace method for mitigating the loss of natural wetlands. Often mitigation projects fail to restore ecosystem services of the impacted natural wetlands. One of the key ecosystem services of newly created wetlands is carbon accumulation/sequestration, but little is known about how planting diversity (PD) affects the ability of herbaceous wetland plants to store carbon in newly created wetlands. Most mitigation projects involve a planting regime, but PD, which may be critical in establishing biologically diverse and ecologically functioning wetlands, is seldom required. Using a set of 34 mesocosms (∼1 m(2) each), we investigated the effects of planting diversity on carbon storage potential of four native wetland plant species that are commonly planted in created mitigation wetlands in Virginia - Carex vulpinoidea, Eleocharis obtusa, Juncus effusus, and Mimulus ringens. The plants were grown under the four distinctive PD treatments [i.e., monoculture (PD 1) through four different species mixture (PD 4)]. Plant biomass was harvested after two growing seasons and analyzed for tissue carbon content. Competition values (CV) were calculated to understand how the PD treatment affected the competitive ability of plants relative to their biomass production and thus carbon storage potentials. Aboveground biomass ranged from 988 g/m(2) - 1515 g/m(2), being greatest in monocultures, but only when compared to the most diverse mixture (p = 0.021). However, carbon storage potential estimates per mesocosm ranged between 344 g C/m(2) in the most diverse mesocosms (PD 4) to 610 g C/m(2) in monoculture ones with no significant difference (p = 0.089). CV of E. obtusa and C. vulpinoidea showed a declining trend when grown in the most diverse mixtures but J. effusus and M. ringens displayed no difference across the PD gradient (p = 0.910). In monocultures, both M. ringens, and J. effusus appeared to store carbon as biomass more effectively than the other species, suggesting that the choice of plant species may play an important role in facilitating the development of carbon accumulation/storage in created wetlands. Plant community diversity provides many ecosystem services (e.g., habitat and floristic quality) other than carbon storage function. Thus, a further study is needed that will focus on investigating how other design elements such as microtopography and hydrologic connectivity may interact with PD in terms of enhancing the carbon storage potential of newly created wetlands.

Publication Type
Journal Article
Means MM, Ahn C, Korol AR, Williams LD. Carbon storage potential by four macrophytes as affected by planting diversity in a created wetland.. Journal of environmental management. 2016 Jan 01; 165:133-139.
Series Name: 
Journal of environmental management
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