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The Effects of Salinity, Vegetation, and Elevation on Blue Carbon Density in Mid-Atlantic Tidal Wetlands Open Access

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In a world with increasing levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases, understanding how carbon is cycled between earth’s systems is critical. Despite their small global extent, tidal wetlands represent one of the largest pools of soil carbon, making them a crucial component of the global carbon budget. In this study, I examine how soil carbon density varies with salinity, elevation and vegetation community composition. Each of these three variables has been independently well-studied to determine what effects they have in terms of wetland composition and blue carbon storage, however there are several contradictions in the literature regarding the effects of these often interrelated variables. I tease apart these effects in a two-part study to find that both elevation and salinity have a significant effect on carbon density, but that the effects of salinity are relatively weak. Vegetation was not found to have a significant effect on carbon density. I discuss how my results fit within the broader body of literature on blue carbon density, and address the potential of using a universal mean for blue carbon density and its implications in the scheme of mitigating the effects of climate change.

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