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A comprehensive study of silica pools and fluxes in Wadden Sea salt marshes

Authors
Publication Date
Keywords
  • Nutrients
  • Silicon
  • Elymus Athericus
  • Ane
  • Wadden Sea
Disciplines
  • Earth Science
  • Geography

Abstract

As an essential nutrient for diatoms, silica plays a key role in the estuarine and coastal food web. High concentrations of dissolved silica (DSi) were found in the seepage water of tidal freshwater marshes, which were therefore assumed to contribute to the silica supply to estuarine waters in times of silica limitation. A comprehensive budget calculation for European salt marshes is presented in this study. Earlier, salt marshes were considered to have even higher silica recycling rates than tidal freshwater marshes. Between 2009 and 2011, concentrations, pools and fluxes of silica in two salt marshes at the German Wadden Sea coast were determined (in soil, pore water, aboveground vegetation, freshly deposited sediments and seepage water). Subsequently, a budget was calculated. Special emphasis was placed on the influence of grazing management on silica cycling. Our results show that the two salt marshes were sinks for silica. The average import of biogenic silica (BSi) with freshly deposited sediments (1,334 kmol km-2 year-1) largely exceeded the DSi and BSi exports with seepage water (80 kmol km-2 year-1). Grazing management can affect silica cycling of salt marshes by influencing hydrology and vegetation structure. Abandoned sites had larger DSi export rates than grazed sites. One third of all BSi imports occurred in only one major flooding, underlining the relevance of rare events in the silica budget of tidal marshes. This aspect has been widely neglected in earlier studies, what might have led to an underestimation of silica import rates to tidal marshes hitherto.

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