Research Article

A characterisation of wetland soil types on the Maputaland Coastal Plain


Abstract

This paper addresses the shortage of wetland soil data on the Maputaland Coastal Plain. It does so by investigating the relationship between wetland types, slope position and soil properties. Four wetland types (a valley-bottom system, perched pans, hygrophilous grasslands and interdunal depressions) were identified. In each type three transects were stratified into wetland zones, sampled, and analysed for selected soil properties. A Principal Component Analysis was conducted to investigate the relationship between wetland types, zones and soil properties. Fifty-eight profiles were described and sampled. Most common was the Fernwood soil form followed by the soil forms containing ≥10% Organic Carbon (the peat substrates and the Champagne, Mfabeni and Manguzi soil forms). The distribution of soil forms was found to be associated with wetland type and slope position; i.e. specific soil forms can be found in specific wetland settings. The multivariate analysis showed that distinct catenal soil properties are a function of three dominant substrate types (namely sand, clay and organic carbon) which, together with the respective hydrological regimes controls the dynamics of the various wetland types. The influence of sand, clay and organic carbon on wetland dynamics is discussed. The paper also comments on the South African classification of organic soils.

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