Southeastern Section - 64th Annual Meeting (19–20 March 2015)

Paper No. 6
Presentation Time: 9:40 AM


TANNER, Benjamin R., Geosciences & Natural Resources, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723,

Wetland organic deposits represent a significant global carbon sink. Wetlands are rare in the Southern Appalachians and there have been very few studies that have directly measured their carbon storage potential. Thus, their contribution as a carbon sink is largely unknown. Long term carbon sequestration rates were determined for three wetland deposits in western North Carolina that have been accumulating organic matter for over 500 years. These three sites were cored and radiocarbon dated and their soils were measured for bulk density and carbon content. Soil carbon accumulation rates vary through time for each wetland, but average soil carbon accumulation rates for each site are within an order of magnitude and vary from a low of 1.0 x 10-3 g C cm-2 yr-1 for the Alarka wetland, to 1.4 x 10-3 g C cm-2 yr-1 for the Panthertown wetland, and to a high of 4.1 x 10-3 g C cm-2 yr-1 for the Pink Beds wetland. Variability in soil carbon accumulation rates through time and between sites will be discussed in terms of differences in site characteristics (e.g. vegetation patterns, hydrology), local climate and environmental change (derived from other analyses completed at the sites), and will be related to variations in sedimentation rate, soil bulk density, and carbon content between and within sites. The long term carbon sequestration rates of Southern Appalachian wetlands will be compared to other ecosystem types and also to carbon sequestration rates of wetlands from other regions.