Impact of deforestation on solid and dissolved organic matter characteristics of tropical peat forests: implications for carbon release
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Gandois, L., Cobb, A.R., Hei, I.C. et al. Biogeochemistry (2013) 114: 183. doi:10.1007/s10533-012-9799-8
- 796 Downloads
This study compares the organic chemistry of peat beneath one of last remaining pristine tropical peat forests in Southeast Asia with a neighbouring peat dome that has been deforested, but not intentionally drained, in the Belait district of Brunei Darussalam, Borneo. We characterized the solid and dissolved organic matter collected from the two domes, through a combination of methods including elemental analysis, phenolic content and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) investigation of solid peat, as well as optical characterisation (absorbance, fluorescence) of dissolved organic matter (DOM). The peat had a high content of lignin, consistent with its origin from the Shorea albida trees on the domes. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration in the pore water was significantly greater in the deforested site (79.9 ± 5.5 mg l−1) than the pristine site (62.2 ± 2.2 mg l−1). The dissolved organic matter was richer in nitrogen and phenolics in the deforested site. The optical properties (Fluorescence Index) indicated a modification of DOM cycling in the deforested site (enhanced decomposition of the peat and fresh litter). Comparison of the solid peat composition between the two sites also suggests effects of deforestation: sulphur, nitrogen and phenolic contents were higher in the deforested site. Taken together, these observations are consistent with peat enhanced decomposition in the deforested site, even without engineered drainage.