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Peatland Diversity and Carbon Dynamics - BES 2011


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Peatlands are carbon cycling hotspots. We characterised plant and microbial diversity, carbon stocks and greenhouse-gas fluxes in a UK blanket peat. We aim to test whether measures of functional diversity (i.e. plant functional types, and microbial molecular diversity) can be used to explain and upscale variance in ecosystem carbon dynamics.

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Peatland Diversity and Carbon Dynamics - BES 2011

  1. 1. PeatlandDiversity and Carbon Dynamics<br />Mike Whitfield<br />Nick Ostle, Richard Bardgett, Rebekka Artz<br /> |<br />
  2. 2. Background:<br />Peatlands and climate change<br /> Above- below-ground links<br />Research:<br />Landform, plant and soil diversity<br />Peatland C and N<br />Greenhouse gas emissions<br />Conclusions<br />
  3. 3. Peatlands and climate change<br />Introduction: Peatlands and Climate Change<br />To a depth of 1m, UK peatlands contain 1357Mt C, nearly half of which is in Scotland<br />A loss of 12% of the UK peatland area <br />= total annual UK human GHG emissions<br />(Bradley et al. 2005; Smith et al. 2010)<br />
  4. 4. Introduction: Linking Plant and Soil Biodiversity<br />Plant-soil interactions lie at the heart of feedbacks between the biosphere and global biogeochemical cycles.<br />Climate change and land use are powerful drivers of change in plant diversity. <br />Can we use understanding of plant-soil interactions in peatlands to predict biogeochemical functioning?<br />Pendall et al. (2008) Functional Ecology 22 (6)<br />
  5. 5. Main Questions<br />Are there any relationships between plant and microbial community structure at the ecosystem scale?<br />Can these relationships be used to predict ecosystem scale carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions?<br />How little do we need to know about biodiversity to predict ecosystem C cycling and GHG emissions?<br />Image: R. Bardgett<br />
  6. 6. Field Site: Trout Beck, Moor House, north Pennines<br />Area: 1146 ha<br />Altitudinal range: 535 – 848m<br />90% blanket peat<br />
  7. 7. Peat Bog Landforms<br />Open moorland<br />Gully<br />Eroding area<br />
  8. 8. Above-ground: Vegetation Composition<br />Open moorland<br />Gully<br />Eroding area<br />
  9. 9. Methodology: Peatland survey<br /><ul><li>Large-scale vegetation survey
  10. 10. Composition and height
  11. 11. Topography
  12. 12. Peat depth
  13. 13. Soil C and N
  14. 14. Microbial community composition
  15. 15. By PLFA and M-TRFLP</li></ul>0-5cm: Acrotelm<br /> 15-20cm: Mesotelm<br /> 75-80cm: Catotelm<br />
  16. 16. Below-ground: Peat Carbon and Nitrogen<br />Gullies are less nutrient-limited and a focus for biogeochemical cycling…<br />
  17. 17. Below-ground: Microbial community PLFAs<br />Lower total PLFAs in eroding areas reflects lack of plant inputs<br />Declining trend in total PLFAs with depth<br />Suggestion of a lower fungal-bacterial ratio in gullies<br />(f = 70, p < 0.01)<br />(f = 12, p < 0.01)<br />n.s.<br />(f = 24.7, p < 0.01)<br />
  18. 18. Greenhouse Gas Fluxes: Experimental Design<br />Monthly sampling using static dome chambers, Infra-Red Gas Analysers (IRGAs) and gas chromatography<br />Continuous landform hydrology and temperature<br />June 2010 to May 2011<br />Image: Sue Ward<br />
  19. 19. Water table measurements<br />
  20. 20. Greenhouse Gas Fluxes: CO2 from June 2010 to May 2011<br />Summer<br />Winter<br />
  21. 21. Greenhouse Gas Fluxes: CH4 from June 2010 to May 2011<br />Summer<br />Winter<br />
  22. 22. Conclusions so far…<br /><ul><li>Are there any relationships between plant diversity-abundance and microbial community structure at the landscape scale?
  23. 23. Differences in the composition of Plant Functional Types between landforms are clearly visible
  24. 24. Eroding areas have lower total PLFAs, which may be a reflection of lower vegetation cover on bare peat
  25. 25. Are there differences in below-ground carbon dynamics between landform types?
  26. 26. Gullies have a greater carbon and nitrogen concentration, and a lower CN ratio
  27. 27. Can these relationships be used to predict ecosystem scale greenhouse gas emissions?
  28. 28. Gullies emit larger quantities of methane and carbon dioxide than other landforms</li></li></ul><li>Acknowledgements<br />This talk can be downloaded from<br />Many thanks to:<br />Catherine Turner, Sean Case, Simon Oakley, Susan Ward, Sergio Menendez Villanueva, Harriett Rea, Paula Reimer, David Beilman and Nicola Thompson<br />Mike Whitfield is supported by a Natural Environment Research Council CASE studentship.<br />