Peatlands and global climate change: Insights from comparative studies of sites situated along a latitudinal gradient

Abstract

Sphagnum-dominated peatland ecosystems that are structurally and functionally similar to their boreal and subarctic counterparts are found as far south as West Virginia. Completed, ongoing, and preliminary studies conducted at Bog Run Bog, WV, Bog Lake Bog, MN, and Wetland 307 of the Experimental Lakes Area, Ontario have included 1) a reciprocal transplant of dominant hummock and hollowSphagnum species, examining growth in length, 2) a reciprocal transplant of peat, with periodic retrieval of transplanted samples and analysis of CO2 and CH4 production under anoxic and oxic conditions at field temperature and at 22°C, 3)14C-labeling of vegetation in hollow, hummock, and shrub plots, following the fate of a single day’s photosynthetic fixation through aboveground and belowground components over time, and 4) a preliminary analysis of13C ratios in peat and of the CH4 that is produced and emitted. Collectively, these studies provide support for the premise that comparative studies of northern (cooler climate) and southern (warmer climate) peatland sites may provide insights into potential functional changes in boreal peatlands under predicted scenarios of global climate change.

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Correspondence to R. Kelman Wieder.

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Wieder, R.K., Yavitt, J.B. Peatlands and global climate change: Insights from comparative studies of sites situated along a latitudinal gradient. Wetlands 14, 229–238 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03160660

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Key Words

  • peatlands
  • global climate change
  • latitudinal gradient
  • Sphagnum