The carbon dynamics of a prairie pothole wetland

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Hartwig, Leah Carolyn Metanczuk
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Wetlands are very valuable ecosystems as they play an integral role in wildlife habitat, water management and greenhouse gas exchange. The exchange of carbon dioxide between prairie wetlands and the atmosphere is poorly understood. The purpose of this study was to identify rates and trends in the growing season carbon dioxide flux from the riparian and open-water zone of a prairie pothole wetland. In addition to providing core open water and riparian zone CO2 flux measurements, relationships between variations in CO2 flux and characteristics of the wetland’s biological, biochemical and hydrometeorological state were assessed. The CO2 effluxes from the pond during the summer of 2006 were approximately four times greater than in 2005, but were much lower in the early fall. Algal chlorophyll-a concentrations were greater in 2005 than 2006 for all three algal assemblages. The mean chlorophyll-a concentrations in 2005 for epiphyton, phytoplankton and metaphyton were 2.75 ± 0.62 g m-2, 87 ± 24 µ L-1, and 318 ± 187 g m-2 respectively. In 2006 mean concentrations for the same assemblages were 0.008 ± 0.001 g m-2, 8 ± 2 µ L-1, and 27 g m-2 respectively. The amount of DOC in the open water in August of 2005 (140 mg DOC L-1) was 70 times greater than in July of 2005 (2 mg DOC L-1). DOC ranged from 30 to 52 mg DOC L-1 in 2006. Although highly productive, the pond proper appeared to be a source of DOC which is concurrent with literature from littoral zone and shallow inland waters. Soil respiration increased upslope from the wetland to the cropped upland in 2005. Net ecosystem exchange was greater in the cattail ring surrounding wetland than the grass and sedge zone beyond the cattails. The riparian vegetation may have been water stressed in late-July (at the climax of the dry period) when net ecosystem exchange decreased. Diurnal net ecosystem exchange in the riparian zone indicates uptake during the day and emissions at night. From this data it appears that the riparian zone may have acted as a CO2 sink in June, July and August and a source in April.
CO2, wetlands, prairie, pothole