Use of computed tomography imaging for quantifying coarse roots, rhizomes, peat, and particle densities in marsh soils
Date of Original Version
Computed tomography (CT) imaging has been used to describe and quantify subtidal, benthic animals such as polychaetes, amphipods, and shrimp. Here, for the first time, CT imaging is used to quantify wet mass of coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat in cores collected from organic-rich (Jamaica Bay, New York) and mineral (North Inlet, South Carolina) Spartina alterniflora soils. Image analysis software was coupled with the CT images to measure abundance and diameter of the coarse roots and rhizomes in marsh soils. Previously, examination of marsh roots and rhizomes was limited to various hand-sieving methods that were often time-consuming, tedious, and error prone. CT imaging can discern the coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat based on their varying particle densities. Calibration rods composed of materials with standard densities (i.e., air, water, colloidal silica, and glass) were used to operationally define the specific x-ray attenuations of the coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat in the marsh cores. Significant regression relationships were found between the CT-determined wet mass of the coarse roots and rhizomes and the hand-sieved dry mass of the coarse roots and rhizomes in both the organic-rich and mineral marsh soils. There was also a significant relationship between the soil percentage organic matter and the CT-determined peat particle density among organic-rich and mineral soils. In only the mineral soils, there was a significant relationship between the soil percentage organic matter and the CT-determined peat wet mass. Using CT imaging, significant positive nitrogen fertilization effects on the wet masses of the coarse roots, rhizomes, and peat, and the abundance and diameter of rhizomes were measured in the mineral soils. In contrast, a deteriorating salt marsh island in Jamaica Bay had significantly less mass of coarse roots and rhizomes at depth (10-20 cm), and a significantly lower abundance of roots and rhizomes compared with a stable marsh. However, the diameters of the rhizomes in the deteriorating marsh were significantly greater than in the stable marsh. CT imaging is a rapid approach to quantify coarse roots, rhizomes, peat, and soil particle densities in coastal wetlands, but the method is unable at this time to quantify fine roots. © 2011 by the Ecological Society of America.
Publication Title, e.g., Journal
Davey, Earl, Cathleen Wigand, Roxanne Johnson, Karen Sundberg, James Morris, and Charles T. Roman. "Use of computed tomography imaging for quantifying coarse roots, rhizomes, peat, and particle densities in marsh soils." Ecological Applications 21, 6 (2011). doi: 10.1890/10-2037.1.