Spatial patterns of labile forms of phosphorus in a subtropical wetland. Academic Article uri icon


  • Phosphorus (P) has been identified as the key constituent defining wetland productivity, structure, and function. Our goal was to investigate the spatial patterns of total P and three labile forms of P (labile organic, inorganic, and microbial biomass P) across a subtropical wetland located in east-central Florida, the Blue Cypress Marsh Conservation Area (BCMCA), and link spatial patterns to ecosystem processes. The wetland received a continual input of nutrients primarily from the south and intermittently from the west and east, respectively, which ceased in the mid-1990s. Since then the marsh system has been undergoing natural succession. We used (i) ordinary kriging to characterize the spatial patterns of total P and labile P forms across the wetland, (ii) local, moving spatial correlations to investigate relationships between total P and labile P forms, and (iii) a clustering technique to link the identified spatial patterns to biogeochemical processes. The spatially explicit analyses revealed patterns of total P and labile P forms as well as changing relationships between variables across the marsh. We were able to distinguish P-enriched areas from unaffected ("natural") areas and intermediate zones that are currently undergoing change as P is mobilized and translocated. We also identified areas that are at risk, showing a shift toward a more P-enriched status. Our results improve our understanding of P and its labile components within a spatially explicit context.