Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 609–617 | Cite as

Effect of salinity on the decomposition of soil organic carbon in a tidal wetland

  • Wendi Qu
  • Juanyong Li
  • Guangxuan HanEmail author
  • Haitao Wu
  • Weimin Song
  • Xiaoshuai Zhang
Soils, Sec 1 • Soil Organic Matter Dynamics and Nutrient Cycling • Research Article



Climate warming and sea level rise have the potential to change the salt level of soil in tidal wetlands. And it is important to clarify the process and the mechanism of decomposition of soil organic carbon in a tidal wetland under varying salinities. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impacts of soil salinity on the decomposition rate of organic carbon (DROC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in a tidal wetland.

Materials and methods

Two types of soil (surface soil in Suaeda salsa and bare tidal flat) were collected, air-dried, and homogenized. After adding different content of salt (0 g/L, 3 g/L, 6 g/L, 9 g/L, and 12 g/L), the soils were incubated for 28 days at stable room temperature (25 ± 2 °C) and added by deionized water to maintain the stability of soil moisture. The gases (CO2 and CH4) emission rates of each salt treatment were measured during 28-day incubation. DROC was determined by the sum of daily CO2-C emission rates and daily CH4-C emission rates in this study.

Results and discussion

Salt addition inhibited the process of gas emissions and DROC. Gases emission rates and DROC of two types of soil showed similar temporal trends, with distinctive drop in the beginning of experiment and no significant decrease followed. Significant difference of DOC among salt treatments was found in the bare tidal flat soil. Variations of partial correlation between DROC and soil salinity and DOC showed similar trends (e.g., in days 9–18, the positive effect of DOC on DROC was greatly promoted (R2 = 0.80, p < 0.001), and the negative effect of soil salinity was highly improved (R2 = 0.93, p < 0.001)). Soil properties, in particular DOC, may be primary factors accounting for the discrepancy of gases emission rates and DROC of two types of soil.


Increased soil salinity had a negative effect on DROC during 28-day incubation. The impact of soil salinity and DOC on DROC were varied in different phases of laboratory experiment (soil salinity generally had increasingly negative relationship with DROC, but DOC showed most significantly positive relationship in the middle stage of incubation). Both the formation and consumption of DOC may be valuable for more detail research regarding to decomposition of soil organic carbon.


Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) CH4 CO2 Salinity Tidal wetlands 



We are grateful for the support from Yellow River Delta Ecological Research Station of Coastal Wetland, CAS, and also thank two anonymous reviewers for their expert advice and fruitful comments.

Funding information

This research was funded by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (41671089), the Science and Technology Service Network Initiative (KFJ-STS-ZDTP-023), and Key deployment project of Chinese Academy of Sciences (KFZD-SW-112).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendi Qu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Juanyong Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Guangxuan Han
    • 1
    Email author
  • Haitao Wu
    • 3
  • Weimin Song
    • 1
  • Xiaoshuai Zhang
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Coastal Environmental Processes and Ecological Remediation, Yantai Institute of Coastal Zone ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesYantaiChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Northeast Institute of Geography and AgroecologyChinese Academy of SciencesChangchunChina

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