Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Michael E. Bender

Committee Member

Robert A. Jordan

Committee Member

George Grant

Committee Member

Craig Smith

Committee Member

Robert J. Byrne


Annual net transports of particulate organic carbon (POC), dissolved organic carbon (DOC), and ATP-carbon were determined for two York River, Virginia, tidal marshes by monthly sampling for one year. Annual net losses of POC, DOC, and ATP-carbon from the marsh to the York River were observed for both areas, indicating that the long-term effect of these marshlands is to contribute both living and detrital organic material to the estuary. The mesohaline marsh area, Carter Creek, was observed to have the greater amount of organic carbon loss in the particulate fraction, while the oligohaline marsh area, Ware Creek, was observed to have the greater amount of organic carbon loss in the dissolved fraction. It is suggested that this difference was due to the tidal flushing characteristics of both marsh areas, and that Spartina dominated salt marshlands with reduced tidal scouring are characterized by greater on-marsh decomposition with resultant greater loss of DOC to the estuary than other more exposed areas. Erosion and loss of both POC and DOC from the marsh to the estuary by storms appear significant mechanisms controlling marsh export. Whether much of this material is subsequently returned to the marsh by tidal movement following a storm remains to be determined. ATP-carbon loss to the estuary was observed year-round for both marsh areas. The annual net export of this living carbon was equal to 8.4 percent and 8.7 percent of the annual export of POC from Ware and Carter Creek study areas respectively. The living material in individual samples ranged from less than 5 percent of POC in the water during the winter, to greater than 20 percent during the summer. This dissertation is from the Joint Program Degree from the College of William & Mary and University of Virginia and awarded by the University of Virginia.



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