Effects of hydrology on spatial patterns of soil development in created riparian wetlands

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Surficial soil development was studied in four wetland basins created on the floodplain of the Des Plaines River near Chicago, Illinois, USA. These studies determined changes in the spatial distribution of plant-available nutrients as a result of establishing two different wetland hydrologic regimes. Three wetland basins had mineral soils and one an organic soil. A geostatistical analysis including kriging of collected data indicated that all soil parameters showed significant changes in their spatial structure as a result of the water inputs and unidirectional flows. The degree of spatial variability as indicated by autocorrelation in the soil data (i.e., points closer to one another are more similar than points further apart due to the influence of landscape processes) declined for all parameters except Mg+2. Temporal changes in the spatial patterns of extractable phosphorus (P) and percent organic carbon (OC) tended to be inverse; P declined in areas where OC increased and vice versa. The spatial pattern of these changes was dissimilar in the mineral soils as compared to the organic soil and was related to patterns of primary productivity. Zones of P uptake and OC accumulation were also related to wetland hydrology and primary productivity. Changes in the distribution of nutrients, particularly P, may be viewed as a result of nutrient spirals within the wetlands. By comparison, the reorganization in the concentrations of K+ and Ca+2 appear to have been mediated by cation exchange processes. The formation of new concentration gradients was strongly related to both flow pathways and the different water inflow rates. The formation of concentration gradients in exchangeable cations was not reflected in the average concentrations within each basin. Mean values changed significantly in only a few instances. Reducing data in this way missed important biogeochemical changes occurring within the experimental wetland basins.


Wetlands Ecology and Management



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