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Can multi-element fingerprinting of soils inform assessments of chemical connectivity between depressional wetlands?

April 12, 2019

The question of wetland connectivity is particularly relevant regarding depressional wetlands because these wetlands often seem to be “isolated” from other wetlands on a landscape. In this study, multi-element fingerprinting of soils was used to assess similarity in element composition of depressional-wetland soils as a measure of wetland connectivity. We determined the concentrations of 63 elements in the surface soil (top 10 cm) for ten sequences, each consisting of at least one recharge, one flow-through and one discharge depressional wetland in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota. Across all wetlands, soil pH, organic matter content, and electrical conductivity were the most important variables explaining variation in element concentrations. Electrical conductivity and pH significantly increased along a recharge to flow-through to discharge gradient, as did concentrations of As, B, Ca, Co, Hf, Li, Mg, Na, S, Sb, and Sr. Concentrations of Ag, Cd, Cu, P, Pb, Rb, and Se showed the reverse pattern. Similarity-tree analysis revealed that recharge and discharge wetlands clustered in different groups, but that flow-through wetlands were distributed across the spectrum. Our study supports the idea that wetlands in the PPR are chemically connected through surface-water and groundwater flows, and erosional processes, but also behave as independent units within a larger hydrologic landscape.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Can multi-element fingerprinting of soils inform assessments of chemical connectivity between depressional wetlands?
DOI 10.1007/s13157-019-01154-x
Authors Xiaoyan Zhu, Yuxiang Yuan, David M. Mushet, Marinus L. Otte
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Wetlands
Series Number
Index ID 70203044
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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