Honors College Thesis


Influence of Soil Texture on Carbon Storage of PNW Coastal Blue Carbon Ecosystems Public Deposited

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  • Coastal blue carbon ecosystems offer a variety of important ecosystem services, including exceptional rates of carbon sequestration and long-term carbon storage. Because these ecosystems disproportionately influence global carbon cycling, understanding their soil characteristics may help guide long-term climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies. Recently, Kauffman et al. (2020) observed the carbon stocks of Pacific Northwest coastal blue carbon ecosystems and reported wide variation in carbon storage among various plant communities, estuaries, and soil depths. Ecosystem soil carbon stocks ranged from 411 ± 70 Mg C ha-1 in low marshes to 822 ± 95 Mg C ha-1 in tidal forests (Kauffman et al., 2020). While numerous environmental attributes contribute to this variation, we hypothesized that soil texture would have a pivotal role. Soil texture has been known to influence water and nutrient-holding properties of soil, but analyses of relationships among coastal soil textures and carbon storage have not previously been conducted in Pacific Northwest tidal wetlands. The primary objective of this study was to determine the relationships among soil texture and carbon pools in coastal tidal wetlands of the PNW. Carbon concentration varied significantly among sampled wetland communities, soil depths, and sampling sites. Although soil texture varied among sites, it remained relatively uniform across depths. The predominant soil textures across all sites were loam and sandy loam. We found relatively weak relationships between soil texture and carbon concentration at surface horizons but were stronger in deep soil layers where bioturbation, flooding, and other disturbances would less influence impact carbon storage. These findings offer a baseline understanding of the role soil texture plays in carbon storage, and they add to the growing knowledge of Pacific Northwest coastal blue carbon ecosystems.
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  • The data collection portion of this study was funded by the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) Science Collaborative.
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