When Dr. Maria del Mar Palacios led Blue Carbon Lab teammates and volunteers to the start of the Citizen Science project in Feb 2020, we did not anticipate it to be such a bumpy road with a big boom event at its end in Feb 2021. We endured through one of the world’s strictest COVID-19 lockdowns, while processing, collecting, and analysing samples (see preliminary results below) to witness Deakin’s own Vice Chancellor, Professor Iain Martin, signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Hobsons Bay Wetlands Centre to create a Wetland Science Hub just next door.
In February 2020, we were joined by a group of enthusiastic volunteers on a quest to understand the resilience and variability of blue carbon across three saltmarsh species: Distichlis distichophylla (DD), Sarcocornia quinqueflora (SQ), and Suaeda australis (SA). To answer these questions we:
- Measured plant recovery over a one year period since we removed plants from the experimental plots in February 2020
Suaeda australis shows the slowest rate of recovery compared to Distichlis distichophylla and Sarcocornia quinqueflora.
- Quantified soil carbon stock in the top 5 cm
Distichlis distichophylla (6.9 ton/ha) stores the lowest carbon stocks compared to Sueda australis (18.6 ton/ha) Sarcocornia quinqueflora (15.9 ton/ha)
- Measured litter decomposition rate
Distichlis distichophylla showed to lowest decomposition rate (70% remaining after 9 months) compared to Sueda australis (27%) Sarcocornia quinqueflora (34%).
- Measured soil accumulation rate
We measured the distance between white powder line (feldspar) and the surface to estimate sediment accumulation rate. Still in progress.
In Feb 2021 we ventured one more time to collect the very last litter decomposition bags, which had been buried for one year in the soil, and looked at soil accumulation rate by measuring the amount of soil above a white powder (feldspar) soil horizon marker. It was so heart-warming to see so many of our 2020 recruits back in the field with us in 2021. BIG BIG thank you to our volunteers! Stay tuned for the polished version of the final results from this fantastic field experiment with local citizen scientists!
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