|Mary Shockley - Biogeochemistry
College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
Sulfate reduction and methanogenesis along the soil profile of a
high salt marsh
At SERC’s elevated
CO2 field site the biogeochemistry lab is studying the effects
of elevated carbon dioxide levels on the respiratory pathways of
making quite a bit of headway, gathering data on the two major pathways in
this marsh - sulfate reduction and methanogenesis, but they’ve never
studied respiration at a depth of greater than 20 cm.
Here’s where I came in. Pat
Megonigal has been wondering about what the bacteria are doing deep in the
organic layer of the marsh. Also,
how deep does the organic layer extend?
To answer these questions we pulled a soil core that was about 6 m
deep (this was no easy task). We
found that the organic layer extended for about 5.2 m and then we hit the
mineral/clay layer below that. So
that answers one question – when you’re standing on the squishy,
stinky surface of the salt marsh at the CO2 site, you’re
standing on about 18 feet of decaying plant matter.
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