Current methods of wetland assessment rely on the use of ecological indicators such as vegetation and amphibians, but often lack an in-depth analysis of soil parameters. The objective of this study was to determine whether the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method (ORAM) can be used to predict soil quality in forested wetlands. Soil cores were taken from six wetlands ranging in ORAM scores. The soil samples were analyzed for key soil parameters (aggregate stability, bulk density, organic matter, C, N, S, P, microbial biomass, and enzyme activity). Some of these soil parameters (i.e., microbial biomass, soil C, N and S, bulk density, soil moisture) were correlated with the ORAM scores, while others (i.e., P, pH, aggregate stability) showed no correlation. Enzyme activity was correlated with the ORAM score for one of the four sampling events. When analyzed together by a principal component analysis, the soil parameters did not separate the wetland sites along a gradient of ORAM scores. Our results indicate that the ORAM reflects some of the key soil quality conditions, but not all. We further discuss whether some of the soil parameters we selected are appropriate indicators of the quality of wetland soils.
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Vol. 29 • No. 2