Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Science and Mathematics


Earth and Environmental Studies

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Huan Feng

Committee Member

Meiyin Wu

Committee Member

Frank Gallagher


Liberty State Park in Jersey City, NJ, a mixed landscape encompassing areas of freshwater wetlands, was the site of an abandoned train yard and contains several areas in which soil concentrations of As, Cr, Cu, Pb, V and Zn occur above ambient levels of New Jersey soil. Human population growth and expanding urbanization are both placing an increased amount of stress on wetland environments. Methane, a greenhouse gas is both produced and consumed by the respiration of microorganisms in the soil. The methane flux rate and direction might be impacted by soil metal contamination. This variation could have broad implications for climate change. A field study and a laboratory study were conducted to study the effect of metal contamination on soil methane flux. Five study sites with varying levels of heavy metal pollution dominated with the common reed Phragmites australis were examined. The field study used portable air chambers to collect gas samples for a comparative analysis. For the laboratory study, sections of soil and Phragmites australis from each site were also transported to a MSU greenhouse to study the metals contamination’s effects in a controlled setting. Air samples from the greenhouse study were taken using the same gas chamber technique. Methane concentrations are examined using gas chromatography with a flame ionization detector. Methane flux was found to be high with methane being emitted from the soil to the atmosphere at the wetland sites with low soil metal contamination. Methane flux was lower with methane being taken in to the soil from the atmosphere at the upland sites with high soil metal load. Metal concentrations distressing soil microbes and the site hydrology may have produced these outcomes. The primary production and energy allocation of Phragmites australis was also examined at the five Liberty State Park study sites. The primary production of Phragmites australis was decreased at sites with higher metal load with more energy being allocated to below ground biomass production.

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