Interacting Controls on Ecosystem Photosynthesis and Respiration in Contrasting Peatland Ecosystems

  • Lawrence B. Flanagan
Part of the Advances in Photosynthesis and Respiration book series (AIPH, volume 37)


Photosynthesis in moss contributes significantly to carbon gain in northern peatland ecosystems. In turn, these northern peatland ecosystems contain a large fraction of the global soil carbon stock, which has been suggested to be vulnerable to warming and drying associated with climate change. The fate of this vast peatland carbon stock depends on the relative responses of ecosystem photosynthesis and respiration to climate change-induced shifts in environmental conditions. This chapter reviews some recent studies of the controls on ecosystem photosynthesis and respiration in contrasting peatland ecosystems in northern Alberta, Canada, a region where peatlands occupy a significant fraction of the landscape. In particular, it is highlighted how (i) differences in dominant plant functional type, (ii) interactions between variation in water table depth and temperature, and (iii) ecosystem succession, can all strongly control the rate of net carbon sequestration in peatland ecosystems and influence the response of these ecosystems to variation in environmental conditions associated with anticipated climate change. Prediction of future climate change effects on peatland ecosystems would be improved if global-scale models could include more details of the biological variability among peatlands (both spatial and temporal), with realistic parameterizations of the responses of photosynthesis and respiration to variation in temperature, water table depth and soil moisture.


Water Table Depth Peatland Ecosystem Gross Ecosystem Photosynthesis Total Ecosystem Respiration Ecosystem Photosynthesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



maximum photosynthetic capacity;


gross ecosystem photosynthesis;


net ecosystem productivity;


respiratory capacity at 10 °C;


total ecosystem respiration



This research was supported by grants from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, and Biosphere Implications of CO2 Policy in Canada (BIOCAP). I thank Angela Adkinson, Peter Carlson, Aaron Glenn, Kamran Syed, and Eric Van Gaalen for their contributions to the research that is reviewed here.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, Water and Environmental Science BuildingUniversity of LethbridgeLethbridgeCanada

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