Organic carbon fractions in temperate mangrove and saltmarsh soils

V. N.L. Wong, R. E. Reef, C. Chan, K. S. Goldsmith

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Coastal wetlands, such as mangrove and saltmarsh environments, can store significant amounts of soil organic carbon (SOC); however, most studies focus on tropical and subtropical environments. We assessed SOC stocks and fractions in temperate mangrove (two sites) and saltmarsh (sites SM1, SM2 and SM3) environments in southern Australia. The SOC fractions were separated according to particulate organic carbon (POC), humic carbon (HC) and recalcitrant carbon (RC) by size fractionation. Saltmarsh sites generally had the highest SOC content (up to 12.4% SOC). The POC fraction was the highest at the surface in the saltmarsh site and decreased relative to the HC and RC fractions with depth. Conversely, the proportion of POC at the mangrove sites did not decrease with depth, forming up to 76% of the SOC. The vertical displacement of soil of up to 5.8 mm year-1 at the saltmarsh sites, measured using root ingrowth bags, suggest significant contributions of POC via root materials. Retention of these POC inputs are likely to be related to waterlogging, which decreases decomposition rates-with much lower soil moisture content at SM1, where the lowest POC content occurred below the surface, compared with SM2 and SM3.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-43
Number of pages10
JournalSoil Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • accretion
  • coastal wetland
  • organic carbon

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