Assessing Organic Matter and Organic Carbon Contents in Soils of Created Mitigation Wetlands in Virginia

Ahn, Changwoo;Jones, Stacy

  • Received : 2012.12.01
  • Accepted : 2013.07.11
  • Published : 2013.09.30


Several soil properties were studied from three young created mitigation wetlands (<10 years old), which were hydrologically comparable in the Piedmont region of Virginia. The properties included soil organic matter (SOM), soil organic carbon (SOC), pH, gravimetric soil moisture, and bulk density ($D_b$). No significant differences were found in the soil properties between the wetlands, except SOM and SOC. SOM and SOC indicated a slight increase with wetland age; the increase was more evident with SOC. Only about a half of SOC variability found in the wetlands was explained by SOM ($R^2$ = 0.499, p < 0.05). The majority of the ratios of SOM to SOC for these silt-loam soils ranged from 2.0 to 3.5, which was higher than the 1.724 Van Bemmelen factor, commonly applied for the conversion of SOM into SOC in estimating the carbon storage or accumulation capacity of wetlands. The results may caution the use of the conversion factor, which may lead to an overestimation of carbon sequestration potentials of newly created wetlands. SOC, but not SOM, was also correlated to $D_b$, which indicates soil compaction typical of most created wetlands that might limit vegetation growth and biomass production, eventually affecting carbon accumulation in the created wetlands.


Bulk density;Created mitigation wetland;Soil organic matter;Soil organic carbon;Van Bemmelen factor;Wetland soils


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