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Title Effects of ten years of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization on carbon and nutrient cycling in a tidal freshwater marsh
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Tidal freshwater marshes can protect downstream ecosystems from eutrophication by intercepting excess nutrient loads, but recent studies in salt marshes suggest nutrient loading compromises their structural and functional integrity. Here, we present data on changes in plant biomass, microbial biomass and activity, and soil chemistry from plots in a tidal freshwater marsh on the Altamaha River (GA) fertilized for 10 yr with nitrogen (+N), phosphorus (+P), or nitrogen and phosphorus (+NP). Nitrogen alone doubled aboveground biomass and enhanced microbial activity, specifically rates of potential nitrification, denitrification, and methane production measured in laboratory incubations. Phosphorus alone increased soil P and doubled microbial biomass but did not affect microbial processes. Nitrogen or P alone decreased belowground biomass and soil carbon (C) whereas +NP increased aboveground biomass, microbial biomass and N cycling, and N, P, and C assimilation and burial more than either nutrient alone. Our findings suggest differential nutrient limitation of tidal freshwater macrophytes by N and microbes by P, similar to what has been observed in salt marshes. Macrophytes outcompete microbes for P in response to long‐term N and P additions, leading to increased soil C storage through increased inputs of belowground biomass relative to N and P added singly. The susceptibility of tidal freshwater marshes to long‐term nutrient enrichment and, hence their ability to mitigate eutrophication will depend on the quantity and relative proportion of N vs. P entering estuaries and tidal wetlands.

Contributors Ellen Herbert, Joseph P. Schubauer-Berigan and Christopher B. Craft

Herbert, E., Schubauer-Berigan, J.P. and Craft, C.B. 2020. Effects of ten years of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilization on carbon and nutrient cycling in a tidal freshwater marsh. Limnology and Oceanography. (in press)

Key Words freshwater marshes, nitrogen, UGAMI Publication
File Date 2020
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This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grants OCE-9982133, OCE-0620959, OCE-1237140 and OCE-1832178. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.