Healthy wetlands play a significant role in climate change mitigation by storing carbon that would otherwise contribute to global warming, leading to the reduction of water and food resources as well as more extreme weather phenomena. Investigating the magnitude of carbon storage potential of different freshwater wetland systems using multiple ecological indicators at varying spatial scales provides insight and justification for selective wetland restoration and conservation initiatives. We provide a holistic accounting of total carbon values for 193 wetland sites, integrating existing carbon algorithms to rapidly assess each of the following carbon pools: above-ground, below-ground, soil, woody debris, shrub cover, and herbaceous cover. Aspects of soil, vegetation, and ecosystem characteristics and stressors were measured to obtain an overall understanding of the ecosystems ability to store carbon (long-term) along a gradient of human disturbance. Based on a review of the literature, methods were prioritized based on the initial data available from field measurements as well as their practicality and ease in replicating the process in the future. Lacustrine human impounded (88.7 ± 18.0 tC/ha), riverine beaver impounded (116.2 ± 29.4 tC/ha), riverine upper perennial (163.3 ± 11.8 tC/ha), riverine lower perennial (199.2 ± 24.7 tC/ha), riverine headwater complex (159.5 ± 22.2 tC/ha), perennial/seasonal depression (269.6 ± 42.4 tC/ha), and slope (162.2 ± 14.6 tC/ha) wetland types were compared. Overall results showed moderate variability (9.33–835.95 tC/ha) for total carbon storage values across the wetland types, with an average total carbon storage of 174.6 ± 8.8 tC/ha for all wetlands. Results show that carbon storage was significantly higher (p = 0.002) in least disturbed wetland sites. Apart from perennial/seasonal depression wetlands, all reference standard wetlands had greater carbon storage, less disturbance impact, and a greater extent of forest cover than non-reference wetlands. Carbon storage values calculated were comparable to published literature.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law