Science Inventory

Use of Computed Tomography Imaging for Qualifying Coarse Roots, Rhizomes, Peat, and Particle Densities in Marsh Soils

Citation:

DAVEY, E. W., C. WIGAND, R. L. JOHNSON, K. Sundberg, J. Morris, AND C. T. Roman. Use of Computed Tomography Imaging for Qualifying Coarse Roots, Rhizomes, Peat, and Particle Densities in Marsh Soils. ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS. Ecological Society of America, Ithaca, NY, 21(6):2156-2171, (2011).

Impact/Purpose:

Computed tomography (CT) imaging, for the first time, is used to successfully quantify wet mass of coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat in cores collected from organic-rich (Jamaica Bay, NY) and mineral (North Inlet, SC) Spartina alterniflora soils. In addition, image analysis software was coupled with the CT images to measure abundance and diameter of the coarse roots and rhizomes in marsh soils. Previously, examination of marsh roots and rhizomes was limited to various hand-sieving methods that were often time-consuming, tedious, and error prone. CT imaging can discern the roots, rhizomes, and peat based on their various particle densities. Calibration rods composed of materials with standard densities (i.e., air, water, colloidal silica, and glass) were used to operationally define the specific x-ray attenuations of the coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat in the marsh cores. Significant regression relationships were found between the CT-determined wet mass of the coarse roots and rhizomes and the hand-sieved dry mass of the coarse roots and rhizomes in both the organic-rich and mineral marsh soils. There was also a significant relationship between the soil percent organic matter and the CT-determined peat particle density among organic-rich and mineral soils. In only the mineral soils, there was a significant relationship between the soil percent organic matter and the CT-determined peat wet mass. Using CT imaging, significant positive nitrogen fertilization effects on the wet masses of the coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat, and the abundance and diameter of rhizomes were measured in the mineral soils. In contrast, a disappearing salt marsh island in Jamaica Bay had significantly less coarse roots and rhizomes at depth (10 – 20 cm), and a significantly lower abundance of roots and rhizomes compared with a stable marsh. However, the diameters of the rhizomes in the disappearing marsh were significantly greater than in the stable marsh. CT imaging successfully assessed and quantified coarse roots, rhizomes, peat, and soil particle densities in coastal salt marshes, and is a practical and effective approach to monitor belowground structure in coastal wetlands. Because the belowground structure in coastal wetlands is critical to the provision of key ecosystem services such as flood abatement and carbon sequestration, the monitoring of belowground structure should be part of wetland management, conservation, and restoration plans.

Description:

Computed tomography (CT) imaging has been used to describe and quantify subtidal, benthic animals such as polychaetes, amphipods, and shrimp. Here, for the first time, CT imaging is used to successfully quantify wet mass of coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat in cores collected from organic-rich (Jamaica Bay, NY) and mineral (North Inlet, SC) Spartina alterniflora soils. Image analysis software was coupled with the CT images to measure abundance and diameter of the coarse roots and rhizomes in marsh soils. Previously, examination of marsh roots and rhizomes was limited to various hand-sieving methods that were often time-consuming, tedious, and error prone. CT imaging can discern the roots, rhizomes, and peat based on their varying particle densities. Calibration rods composed of materials with standard densities (i.e., air, water, colloidal silica, and glass) were used to operationally define the specific x-ray attenuations of the coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat in the marsh cores. Significant regression relationships were found between the CT-determined wet mass of the coarse roots and rhizomes and the hand-sieved dry mass of the coarse roots and rhizomes in both the organic-rich and mineral marsh soils. There was also a significant relationship between the soil percent organic matter and the CT-determined peat particle density among organic-rich and mineral soils. In only the mineral soils, there was a significant relationship between the soil percent organic matter and the CT-determined peat wet mass. Using CT imaging, significant positive nitrogen fertilization effects on the wet masses of the coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat, and the abundance and diameter of rhizomes were measured in the mineral soils. In contrast, a deteriorating salt marsh island in Jamaica Bay had significantly less mass of coarse roots and rhizomes at depth (10 – 20 cm), and a significantly lower abundance of roots and rhizomes compared with a stable marsh. However, the diameters of the rhizomes in the deteriorating marsh were significantly greater than in the stable marsh. CT imaging successfully assessed and quantified coarse roots, rhizomes, peat, and soil particle densities in coastal salt marshes, and is a practical and effective approach to monitor belowground structure in coastal wetlands.

URLs/Downloads:

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Record Details:

Record Type: DOCUMENT (JOURNAL/PEER REVIEWED JOURNAL)
Product Published Date: 09/01/2011
Record Last Revised: 09/27/2011
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 230707

Organization:

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

NATIONAL HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS RESEARCH LABORATORY

ATLANTIC ECOLOGY DIVISION

WATERSHED DIAGNOSTICS BRANCH