Carbon and Nitrogen Sequestration of Melaleuca Floodplain Wetlands in Tropical Australia
Wetlands of Melaleuca spp. in Australia form large forests that are highly threatened by deforestation and degradation. In America, Melaleuca has invaded large areas of native wetlands causing extensive damage. Despite their status as an endangered native ecosystem and as a highly invasive one, little is known about their C and N dynamics. In this study, we sampled five Melaleuca wetlands and measured their C and N ecosystem stocks (aboveground biomass and soil), tree accumulation rates, sedimentation rates, and soil stability. Melaleuca wetlands were highly heterogeneous, but most have large ecosystem C [mean ± SE (range); 360 ± 100 (80-670) Mg C ha−1] and N [8100 ± 1900 (1600-13,000) kg N ha−1] stocks. Tree accumulation rates were 5.0 ± 2.1 Mg C y−1 and 26 ± 14 kg N y−1, and surface soil accumulation rates were 0.6 ± 0.2 Mg C ha−1 y−1 and 39 ± 1 kg N y−1. We found evidence of long-term C and N accumulation in the soil, but also of some level of organic decomposition. Overall, we found that Melaleuca wetlands store and accumulate large amounts of C, especially in their trees, and large amounts of N in their soils, suggesting an important role in coastal biogeochemical cycles.