Peatland greenhouse gas fluxes using a long-term plant community manipulation

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M. N. Steele, P.D. M. Hughes, B. J. M. Robroek

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Northern peatlands are an important store of terrestrial carbon with recent estimates exceeding 1000 Gt of sequestered carbon. Changes in climate and land use influence which plants can grow in peatlands. This plant community composition is a key factor determining the carbon balance of peatlands due to their feedbacks with the soil microbial community which regulate processes related to carbon cycling. To understand long-term peatland carbon trends, a plant manipulation experiment has been maintained for 10 years on the largest expanse of active raised bog in Southern Sweden, the Store Mosse National Park. Gas flux readings were collected seasonally to understand to role of plant functional groups on the dynamics of key greenhouse gasses carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). The results indicate that loss of vascular plants reduces carbon uptake of the plant community (Fig. 1) and changes the composition of the microbial community. Microforms within the bog community have different responses. Hummocks switch from sink to source without ericoid plants to provide recalcitrant litter. Furthermore, the presence of aerenchymatous graminoids increases oxygenation of the soil promoting decomposition and release of carbon. The function of bogs as an active carbon sink can be disrupted by loss of key plant groups. Appropriate conservation and monitoring of peat-forming wetlands under climate change is essential to maintain ecosystem services.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program