Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department
BS in Soil Science
Karen L. Vaughan
Wetlands are vital ecosystems that are crucial in maintaining the life of rare and unique soils, plants, and animals. These ecosystems are key players in water storage, water filtration, carbon storage, and harboring unique species. Since the intervention of human development on the Earth’s surface, almost 50% of the Earth’s original wetlands have either been damaged or destroyed. The identification and assessment of both new and old wetlands is crucial in the survival of these precious ecosystems and their conservation. A 3 month-long study was performed to confirm the hydric status of a soil derived from serpentinitic parent material. The serpentinite study area was confirmed to have wetland hydrology and vegetation, but due to the unique genesis of the soil, no hydric soil indicators were met. The incorporation of indicator of reduction in soils (IRIS) tubes was used to examine the potential reduction of iron in this problematic soil. All IRIS tubes were examined using Adobe Photoshop to obtain exact percentage amounts of reduction and oxidation. It was confirmed that the site is a wetland, with each extraction week providing more than 3 tubes with more than 30% iron reduction within 30cm of the soil surface. The study also incorporated a test of the human eye to the photoshop analysis to see the differences when analyzing IRIS tubes via those methods. It was found that there is a lack of study of serpentinitic wetlands and even more so, the study of sulfur reduction in these unique wetland ecosystems. Further studies could be performed on this site, or a similar site, to study the effect of serpentinite on wetland soils and sulfur reduction.