Pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry of soil organic matter extracted from a brazilian mangrove and spanish salt marshes

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The soil organic matter (SOM) extracted under different vegetation types from a Brazilian mangrove (Pai Matos Island, São Paulo State) and from three Spanish salt marshes (Betanzos Ría and Corrubedo Natural Parks, Galícia, and the Albufera Natural Park, Valencia) was investigated by pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (Py-GC/MS). The chemical variation was larger in SOM from the Spanish marshes than in the SOM of the Brazilian mangroves, possibly because the marshes included sites with both tidal and nontidal variation, whereas the mangrove forest underwent just tidal variation. Thus, plant-derived organic matter was better preserved under permanently anoxic environments. Moreover, given the low number of studied profiles and sedimentary–vegetation sequences in both areas, depth trends remain unclear. The chemical data also allow distinction between the contributions of woody and nonwoody vegetation inputs. Soil organic matter decomposition was found to cause: (i) a decrease in lignin contents and a relative increase in aliphatics; (ii) an increase in short-chain aliphatics at the expense of longer ones; (iii) a loss of odd-over-even dominance in alkanes and alkenes; and (iv) an increase in microbial products, including proteins, sterols, short-chain fatty acids, and alkanes. Pyrolysis-gas chromatography/mass spectrometry is a useful tool to study the behavior and composition of SOM in wetland environments such as mangroves and salt marshes. Additional profiles need to be studied for each vegetation type, however, to improve the interpretability of the chemical data.

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