Restoration impacts on rates of denitrification and greenhouse gas fluxes from tropical coastal wetlands

Sophie A. Comer-Warner*, Anh T.Q. Nguyen, Minh N. Nguyen, Manlin Wang, Antony Turner, Hue Le, Fotis Sgouridis, Stefan Krause, Nicholas Kettridge, Nghia Nguyen, R. Liz Hamilton, Sami Ullah

*Corresponding author for this work

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Forested coastal wetlands are globally important systems sequestering carbon and intercepting nitrogen pollution from nutrient-rich river systems. Coastal wetlands that have suffered extensive disturbance are the target of comprehensive restoration efforts. Accurate assessment of restoration success requires detailed mechanistic understanding of wetland soil biogeochemical functioning across restoration chrono-sequences, which remains poorly understood for these sparsely investigated systems. This study investigated denitrification and greenhouse gas fluxes in mangrove and Melaleuca forest soils of Vietnam, using the 15N-Gas flux method. Denitrification-derived N2O was significantly higher from Melaleuca than mangrove forest soils, despite higher potential rates of total denitrification in the mangrove forest soils (8.1 ng N g-1 h-1) than the Melaleuca soils (6.8 ng N g-1 h-1). Potential N2O and CO2 emissions were significantly higher from the Melaleuca soils than from the mangrove soils. Disturbance and subsequent recovery had no significant effect on N biogeochemistry except with respect to the denitrification product ratio in the mangrove sites, which was highest from the youngest mangrove site. Potential CO2 and CH4 fluxes were significantly affected by restoration in the mangrove soils. The lowest potential CO2 emissions were observed in the mid-age plantation and potential CH4 fluxes decreased in the older forests. The mangrove system, therefore, may remove excess N and improve water quality with low greenhouse gas emissions, whereas in Melaleucas, increased N2O and CO2 emissions also occur. These emissions are likely balanced by higher carbon stocks observed in the Melaleuca soils. These mechanistic insights highlight the importance of ecosystem restoration for pollution attenuation and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from coastal wetlands. Restoration efforts should continue to focus on increasing wetland area and function, which will benefit local communities with improved water quality and potential for income generation under future carbon trading.

Original languageEnglish
Article number149577
Number of pages13
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date21 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank members of Prof. M. Nguyen and Prof. N. Nguyen's research groups for their assistance with sample processing and fieldwork preparation. The authors would also like to thank the directors and staff of Xuan Thuy National Park and U Minh Thuong National Park for their guidance and use of the study sites. This work was funded by the University of Birmingham's Institute of Global Innovation Water Theme Project Number 2018 and Natural Environment Research Council grant number ( NE/T012323/1 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors


  • Coastal wetlands
  • Denitrification
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Mangrove
  • Melaleuca
  • Restoration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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