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Title: A physical-biogeochemical mechanism for negative feedback between marsh crabs and carbon storage

Tidal marshes are valuable global carbon sinks, yet large uncertainties in coastal marsh carbon budgets and mediating mechanisms limit our ability to estimate fluxes and predict feedbacks with global change. To improve mechanistic understanding, we assess how net carbon storage is influenced by interactions between crab activity, water movement, and biogeochemistry. We show that crab burrows enhance carbon loss from tidal marsh sediments by physical and chemical feedback processes. Burrows increase near-creek sediment permeability in the summer by an order of magnitude compared to the winter crab dormancy period, promoting carbon-rich fluid exchange between the marsh and creek. Burrows also enhance vertical exchange by increasing the depth of the strongly carbon-oxidizing zone and reducing the capacity for carbon sequestration. Results reveal the mechanism through which crab burrows mediate the movement of carbon through tidal wetlands and highlight the importance of considering burrowing activity when making budget projections across temporal and spatial scales.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
IOP Publishing
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Environmental Research Letters
Page Range / eLocation ID:
Article No. 034024
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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