Geaghan James P.

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James P.

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  • Article
    Emerging wetlands from river diversions can sustain high denitrification rates in a Coastal Delta
    (American Geophysical Union, 2021-03-31) Upreti, Kiran ; Rivera-Monroy, Victor H. ; Maiti, Kanchan ; Giblin, Anne E. ; Geaghan, James P.
    It is assumed that to treat excess NO3− high soil organic matter content (%OM) is required to maintain high denitrification rates in natural or restored wetlands. However, this excess also represents a risk by increasing soil decomposition rates triggering peat collapse and wetland fragmentation. Here, we evaluated the role of %OM and temperature interactions controlling denitrification rates in eroding (Barataria Bay-BLC) and emerging (Wax Lake Delta-WLD) deltaic regions in coastal Louisiana using the isotope pairing (IPT) and N2:Ar techniques. We also assessed differences between total (direct denitrification + coupled nitrification-denitrification) and net (total denitrification minus nitrogen fixation) denitrification rates in benthic and wetland habitats with contrasting %OM and bulk density (BD). Sediment (benthic) and soil (wetland) cores were collected during summer, spring, and winter (2015–2016) and incubated at close to in-situ temperatures (30°C, 20°C, and 10°C, respectively). Denitrification rates were linearly correlated with temperature; maximum mean rates ranged from 40.1–124.1 μmol m−2 h−1 in the summer with lower rates (<26.2 ± 5.3 μmol m−2 h−1) in the winter seasons. Direct denitrification was higher than coupled denitrification in all seasons. Denitrification rates were higher in WLD despite lower %OM, lower total N concentration, and higher BD in wetland soils. Therefore, in environments with low carbon availability, high denitrification rates can be sustained as long as NO3− concentrations are high (>30 μM) and water temperature is >10°C. In coastal Louisiana, substrates under these regimes are represented by emergent supra-tidal flats or land created by sediment diversions under oligohaline conditions (<1 ppt).