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Impacts of increasing salinity and inundation on rates and pathways of organic carbon mineralization in tidal wetlands: a review

Luo, Min, Huang, Jia-Fang, Zhu, Wen-Feng, Tong, Chuan
Hydrobiologia 2019 v.827 no.1 pp. 31-49
carbon cycle, carbon dioxide, carbon metabolism, ferric oxide, methane, microorganisms, mineralization, nitrates, organic carbon, osmotic stress, oxygen, salinity, sea level, sulfates, wetlands
To improve our understanding of the carbon cycling response to imminent sea-level rise and saltwater intrusions, we review the existing literature on the likely effects of the increasing salinity and inundation on organic carbon mineralization in tidal wetlands. Enhanced salinity and inundation will reduce the pool of the organic carbon substrate, but may expand that of microbes with strong capacities for carbon metabolism. Sulfate availability increases with the increasing salinity, while availability of other electron acceptors, e.g., oxygen, nitrate, ferric oxides, and carbon dioxide, could transiently increase but would ultimately fall with the increasing salinity and inundation. The changing electron acceptor pattern may result in microbial sulfate reduction predominating over other carbon mineralization pathways. Data derived from natural salinity and inundation gradients suggest clear negative effects of salinity and inundation on production rates or emission fluxes of carbon dioxide and methane. However, results for brackish wetlands are conflicting, probably due to their unique geographic location. Salinity and inundation exert their influence on organic carbon mineralization through sulfate enrichment, elevating ionic and osmotic stress and decreasing oxygen concentrations and redox conditions, among other biogeochemical changes. Future studies should address the combined effects of salinity and inundation on carbon biogeochemistry in low-level salinity tidal wetlands.