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Wetlands

, Volume 36, Issue 6, pp 1119–1130 | Cite as

Dynamic Vertical Profiles of Peat Porewater Chemistry in a Northern Peatland

  • Natalie A. Griffiths
  • Stephen D. Sebestyen
Original Research

Abstract

We measured pH, cations, nutrients, and total organic carbon (TOC) over 3 years to examine weekly to monthly variability in porewater chemistry depth profiles (0–3.0 m) in an ombrotrophic bog in Minnesota, USA. We also compared temporal variation at one location to spatial variation in depth profiles at 16 locations across the bog. Most solutes exhibited large gradients with depth. pH increased by two units and calcium concentrations increased over 20 fold with depth, and may reflect peatland development from minerotrophic to ombrotrophic conditions. Ammonium concentrations increased almost 20 fold and TOC concentrations decreased by half with depth, and these patterns likely reflect mineralization of peat or decomposition of TOC. There was also considerable temporal variation in the porewater chemistry depth profiles. Ammonium, soluble reactive phosphorus, and potassium showed greater temporal variation in near-surface porewater, while pH, calcium, and TOC varied more at depth. This variation demonstrates that deep peat porewater chemistry is not static. Lastly, temporal variation in solute chemistry depth profiles was greater than spatial variation in several instances, especially in shallow porewaters. Characterizing both temporal and spatial variability is necessary to ensure representative sampling in peatlands, especially when calculating solute pools and fluxes and parameterizing process-based models.

Keywords

Black spruce-Sphagnum ombrotrophic bog Solute chemistry Spatial and temporal variability Depth profiles Groundwater 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank the late Pat Mulholland for his guidance, mentoring, and friendship. Pat’s input into the early stages of this project greatly improved our experimental design and analysis. We thank K. Oleheiser, N. Aspelin, J. Larson, C. Dorrance, D. Kyllander, R. Nettles, J. Riggs, R. Peterson, B. Munson, M. Olds, M. Wiley, and L. Kastenson for technical assistance, and P. Hanson and R. Kolka for manuscript comments and for their leadership on the Spruce and Peatland Responses Under Climatic and Environmental Change (SPRUCE) project. Comments from two anonymous reviewers greatly improved an earlier version of this manuscript. This research was part of the SPRUCE project and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, Biological and Environmental Research and the Northern Research Station of the USDA Forest Service. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is managed by UT-Battelle, LLC, for the U.S. Department of Energy under contract DE-AC05-00OR22725.

Supplementary material

13157_2016_829_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (89 kb)
Online Resource 1 (PDF 88.8 kb)
13157_2016_829_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (54 kb)
Online Resource 2 (PDF 53.8 kb)

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Copyright information

© Society of Wetland Scientists 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Climate Change Science Institute and Environmental Sciences DivisionOak Ridge National LaboratoryOak RidgeUSA
  2. 2.Northern Research Station, USDA Forest ServiceGrand RapidsUSA

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