Taewoo Kima,1, Junsung Noha,1, Bong-Oh Kwonb, Changkeun Leea, Beomgi Kima, Inha Kwona, Seongjin Hongc, Gap Soo Changd, Won Keun Change, Jungho Name, Jong Seong Khima,*
aSchool of Earth and Environmental Sciences & Research Institute of Oceanography, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Republic of Korea
bDepartment of Marine Biotechnology, Kunsan National University, Kunsan 54150, Republic of Korea
cDepartment of Ocean Environmental Sciences, Chungnam National University, Daejeon 34134, Republic of Korea
dDepartment of Physics and Engineering Physics, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK S7N 5E2, Canada
eKorea Maritime Institute, Busan 49111, Republic of Korea
1These authors contributed equally to this work.
The regulating services by natural tidal flats to purify organic pollutants are increasingly recognized, but a quantitative assessment is very limited. We developed a mesocosm system to determine removal efficiency of organic matters and nutrients by simulating a natural tidal condition. The tidal flat sediments significantly removed waterborne organic pollutants to background levels in ~2 and 6–7 days for COD and TP, respectively. This rapid removal of organic matters by natural sediments could be attributed to the microbe community degrading the corresponding pollutants. Temporal trend and degree of removal rates for COD and TP were similar between the bare tidal flat and the salt marsh. Meantime, the salt marsh environment removed waterborne DIP much quickly and also efficiently, implying a high affinity of halophytes on dissolved organic matters. Of note, sedimentary organic sink prevailed in defaunated condition under the smaller bioturbation effect. A mini-review on the purification capacity of natural and/or constructed coastal wetlands generally supported a high efficiency of vegetation to remove various sources of organic matters.