Land Use Effects on Carbon Cycling in Oregon Coastal Wetlands
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Pacific Northwest coastal wetland extent has been significantly reduced due to development. To understand the effects of land use change on carbon cycling in coastal wetlands, we compared soil carbon dynamics in restored, disturbed (by diking or draining), and reference wetlands in both freshwater and saline conditions in Coos Bay, Oregon. We quantified soil carbon pools, measured in situ fluxes of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2), and estimated sediment deposition and carbon sequestration rates. We found that land use change influences carbon cycling and storage in coastal wetlands. The disturbed marshes have likely lost all their organic material after draining or diking, except for a shallow A horizon. The restored marsh in situ CH4 and CO2 fluxes were intermediate between the disturbed and reference marshes. Generally, restored marshes showed a partial return of carbon storage functions, or an indication that reference level functions may be achieved over time.