Impact of seismic lines on peatland microbial community and carbon cycling

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Percy Korsah, Maria Strack, Scott Davidson, Abigail Shingler

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Global focus on greenhouse gas emissions is currently at its peak due to overwhelming concerns over climate change. Peatlands, one of nature’s efficient and functional systems for carbon storage, are threatened by both natural and anthropogenic disturbances. The extensive network of linear disturbances in the Canadian boreal region; such as seismic lines (created for geologic exploration) and roads could alter the carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane exchange in peatlands, as well as long-term carbon storage. We investigated microbial interactions driving carbon flow in peatlands by assessing changes in microbial communities and functional diversity and determining soil respiration rates. Peat samples from seismic lines and surrounding undisturbed areas were transported from four different wooded peatlands in Peace River, Alberta, including bog and fen and wide and narrow seismic lines. The MicroRESP technique was implemented using 15 carbon sources and Milli-Q Water as a control with samples run in triplicate. There were differences in CO2 production rates from substrates between bogs and fens. Shifts in substrate use on lines relative to undisturbed areas indicate that key microbial players are dependent on the type of disturbance introduced to peatlands. Future work will link these results to field greenhouse gas flux measurements and changes in local microclimatic conditions to better understand the drivers of peatland carbon cycling on seismic lines.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program