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Post print of Johnston, SG, Slavich, PG & Hirst, P 2003, 'Alteration of groundwater and sediment geochemistry in a sulfidic backswamp due to Melaleuca quinquenervia encroachment', Australian Journal of Soil Research, vol. 41, no. 7, pp. 1343-1367.

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Extensive encroachment of the native tree species Melaleuca quinquenervia (Cav.) Blake has occurred on a coastal floodplain sulfidic backswamp in eastern Australia. Almost 50% of the open swamp area c. 1870 is now monospecific M. quinquenervia forest. Encroachment has been associated with shortened hydroperiods and land management changes following drainage for agriculture. Large differences to shallow groundwater and sediment geochemistry were observed beneath both individual M. quinquenervia trees and encroaching forests compared to open swamp. Groundwater beneath M. quinquenervia had enhanced titratable acidity and acidic metal cations, increased concentrations of other ionic species (Cl–, SO42–), altered ionic ratios, and increased dissolved organic carbon. Soil beneath M. quinquenervia displayed enhanced accumulation of acidity and soluble ions, with concentration profiles suggesting vertical redistribution towards the surface. Deepening of the sulfide oxidation front in the soil beneath encroached M. quinquenervia suggests that enhanced sulfide oxidation may be occurring. Changes in soil pH, redox potential, and Fe mineral precipitation/dissolution were also evident. These changes appear to be the result of interactions between M. quinquenervia physiology and the unique groundwater and sediment geochemistry of the surrounding sulfidic/sulfuric horizons. Mechanisms to explain the observed changes are discussed along with potential management implications.

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