Water quality and planktonic microbial assemblages of isolated wetlands in an agricultural landscape
Atkinson, Carla L.
Golladay, Stephen W.
First, Matthew R.
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Wetlands provide ecosystem services including flood protection, water quality enhancement, food chain support, carbon sequestration, and support regional biodiversity. Wetlands occur in human-altered landscapes, and the ongoing ability of these wetlands to provide ecosystem services is lacking. Additionally, the apparent lack of connection of some wetlands, termed geographically isolated, to permanent waters has resulted in little regulatory recognition. We examined the influence of intensive agriculture on water quality and planktonic microbial assemblages of intermittently inundated wetlands. We sampled 10 reference and 10 agriculturally altered wetlands in the Gulf Coastal Plain of Georgia. Water quality measures included pH, alkalinity, dissolved organic carbon, nutrients (nitrate, ammonium, and phosphate), and filterable solids (dry mass and ash-free dry mass). We measured abundance and relative size distribution of the planktonic microbial assemblage (< 45 μm) using flow cytometry. Water quality in agricultural wetlands was characterized by elevated nutrients, pH, and suspended solids. Autotrophic microbial cells were largely absent from both wetland types. Heterotrophic microbial abundance was influenced by nutrients and suspended matter concentration. Agriculture caused changes in microbial assemblages forming the base of wetland food webs. Yet, these wetlands potentially support important ecological services in a highly altered landscape.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Springer for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Wetlands 31 (2011): 885-894, doi:10.1007/s13157-011-0203-6.
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