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Jardin Botanique D'Eala

Hydrologic and Biogeochemical Fluxes from the Ruki River and Adjacent Swamp Forest

Seasonally and perennially inundated forests comprise a significant portion of the Congo Basin and are vast reservoirs of organic carbon. Preliminary river surveys have suggested that these wet lowlands are significant sources of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and dissolved organic carbon to the mainstem of the river. However, despite representing an important interface between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, swamp forests of the Congo remain mostly unstudied. As an extension to the FORSEDCO project, we have set up continuous monitoring of discharge from the Ruki River, a major tributary to the Congo River that drains almost entirely pristine interior lowland and swamp forests. In addition to water fluxes, fluvial export of C, N, and P is sampled for on a fortnightly basis, allowing for robust flux quantification and compositional characterization. Additionally, we are investigating the role of inundation on the biogeochemistry of a representative swamp forest by simultaneous monitoring of seasonally flooded forest and a smaller tributary to the Ruki.
Lolifa River, a blackwater tributary to the Ruki River, drains pristine swamp forest near Mbandaka, DRC. Image: Travis Drake.
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