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Linking dissolved organic matter composition to landscape properties in wetlands across the United States of America

May 3, 2024

Wetlands are integral to the global carbon cycle, serving as both a source and a sink for organic carbon. Their potential for carbon storage will likely change in the coming decades in response to higher temperatures and variable precipitation patterns. We characterized the dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and dissolved organic matter (DOM) composition from 12 different wetland sites across the USA spanning gradients in climate, landcover, sampling depth, and hydroperiod for comparison to DOM in other inland waters. Using absorption spectroscopy, parallel factor analysis modeling, and ultra-high resolution mass spectroscopy, we identified differences in DOM sourcing and processing by geographic site. Wetland DOM composition was driven primarily by differences in landcover where forested sites contained greater aromatic and oxygenated DOM content compared to grassland/herbaceous sites which were more aliphatic and enriched in N and S molecular formulae. Furthermore, surface and porewater DOM was also influenced by properties such as soil type, organic matter content, and precipitation. Surface water DOM was relatively enriched in oxygenated higher molecular weight formulae representing HUPHigh O/C compounds than porewaters, whose DOM composition suggests abiotic sulfurization from dissolved inorganic sulfide. Finally, we identified a group of persistent molecular formulae (3,489) present across all sites and sampling depths (i.e., the signature of wetland DOM) that are likely important for riverine-to-coastal DOM transport. As anthropogenic disturbances continue to impact temperate wetlands, this study highlights drivers of DOM composition fundamental for understanding how wetland organic carbon will change, and thus its role in biogeochemical cycling.

Publication Year 2024
Title Linking dissolved organic matter composition to landscape properties in wetlands across the United States of America
DOI 10.1029/2023GB007917
Authors Martin R. Kurek, Kimberly Wickland, Natalie A. Nichols, Amy M. McKenna, Steven M. Anderson, Mark M. Dornblaser, Nikaan Koupaie-Abyazani, Brett A. Poulin, Sheel Bansal, Jason B. Fellman, Gregory K. Druschel, Emily S. Bernhardt, Robert G.M. Spencer
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Index ID 70254135
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center; Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center