Nia HurstFollow


Given the rising concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere, it is important to assess the natural reservoirs in which carbon can be stored. Great Lakes coastal wetlands are a potentially significant pool of carbon that have yet to be thoroughly investigated. Our study measured soil C (carbon) and depth of organic matter in swamp, transitional, and wet meadow vegetation zones of three wetlands located in the Eastern half of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in the Les Chenaux Islands. It was hypothesized that soil C would decrease moving lakeward (swamp>transitional>wet meadow); however, this hypothesis was only supported in one of our three sites. Vegetation zones were found to influence soil C and organic depth, though the direction and strength of this influence differed depending on the site. Our data suggest that Great Lakes coastal wetlands as a whole may store a disproportionally large amount of soil C (53.2 kg/m3) compared to average estimates of North American wetland soils (16.2 kg/m3), warranting further investigation of the relationship between vegetation, hydrology, and soil carbon in these dynamic ecosystems.