Thus, in 8 years non-native Phragmites sequestered PS-341 in vivo roughly half a year’s worth of the Platte River’s DSi load, beyond what native willow would have done. This result indicates a significant increase in ASi sequestered in sediments – and corresponding decrease in Si flowing downstream – as compared to bare sediments or the more recent native willow sediments that contain far less ASi. Will ASi deposition and sediment fining wrought by Phragmites in the Platte River be stable through time, and eventually become part of the geologic record? There is, of course, no way
of knowing what will happen to these particular deposits. However, the proxies of invasion studied here – biogenic silica and particle size – are widely used in geology to identify various kinds of environmental or ecological change (see, PI3K inhibitor for example, Conley, 1988, Maldonado
et al., 1999 and Ragueneau et al., 1996). Therefore, if conditions are right for preserving and lithifying these sediments, then these signatures of invasion would persist. This study highlights the fact that geomorphologists, geochemists, and ecologists have a lot to learn from each other as they work together to investigate the tremendous scope of environmental change promulgated by human activities. In the example presented here, physical transport of particles is not independent of chemistry, because some particles (like ASi) are bioreactive and may even be produced by plants within the river system. Similarly, elemental fluxes through rivers or other reservoirs are often unwittingly changed by physical alterations of systems. We encourage others to design studies that highlight: (i) physical changes to river systems, like damming or flow reduction from agricultural diversions and evaporative loss, leading to biological
change; and (ii) biological changes in river systems, for example introductions of invasive species, that alter sediment and elemental fluxes to estuaries and coastal oceans. Results from the Platte River demonstrate that non-native Phragmites both transforms dissolved silica into particulate silica and physically sequesters those particles at a much higher rate than filipin native vegetation and unvegetated sites in the same river. Future work will be aimed at disentangling the biochemical and physical components, so that our conceptual framework can be applied to other river systems with different types of vegetation. In addition, high-resolution LiDAR will be used to measure annual erosion and deposition in order to better estimate system-wide rates of Si storage. Scientists are encouraged to look for similar opportunities to study several aspects of environmental change within a single ‘experiment’ because of the benefits such an open-minded, interdisciplinary approach can have towards assessing anthropogenic change.