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Concept: Bog


Peat bogs are primarily situated at mid to high latitudes and future climatic change projections indicate that these areas may become increasingly wetter and warmer. Methane emissions from peat bogs are reduced by symbiotic methane oxidizing bacteria (methanotrophs). Higher temperatures and increasing water levels will enhance methane production, but also methane oxidation. To unravel the temperature effect on methane and carbon cycling, a set of mesocosm experiments were executed, where intact peat cores containing actively growing Sphagnum were incubated at 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25°C. After two months of incubation, methane flux measurements indicated that, at increasing temperatures, methanotrophs are not able to fully compensate for the increasing methane production by methanogens. Net methane fluxes showed a strong temperature-dependence, with higher methane fluxes at higher temperatures. After removal of Sphagnum, methane fluxes were higher, increasing with increasing temperature. This indicates that the methanotrophs associated with Sphagnum plants play an important role in limiting the net methane flux from peat. Methanotrophs appear to consume almost all methane transported through diffusion between 5 and 15°C. Still, even though methane consumption increased with increasing temperature, the higher fluxes from the methane producing microbes could not be balanced by methanotrophic activity. The efficiency of the Sphagnum-methanotroph consortium as a filter for methane escape thus decreases with increasing temperature. Whereas 98% of the produced methane is retained at 5°C, this drops to approximately 50% at 25°C. This implies that warming at the mid to high latitudes may be enhanced through increased methane release from peat bogs.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Carbon dioxide, Bacteria, Redox, Carbon, Methane, Coal, Bog


In peatland ecosystems, plant communities mediate a globally significant carbon store. The effects of global environmental change on plant assemblages are expected to be a factor in determining how ecosystem functions such as carbon uptake will respond. Using vegetation data from 56 Sphagnum-dominated peat bogs across Europe, we show that in these ecosystems plant species aggregate into two major clusters that are each defined by shared response to environmental conditions. Across environmental gradients, we find significant taxonomic turnover in both clusters. However, functional identity and functional redundancy of the community as a whole remain unchanged. This strongly suggests that in peat bogs, species turnover across environmental gradients is restricted to functionally similar species. Our results demonstrate that plant taxonomic and functional turnover are decoupled, which may allow these peat bogs to maintain ecosystem functioning when subject to future environmental change.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Soil, Coal, Biome, Peat, Bog, Bord na Móna, Bog body


Freshwater peatlands are carbon accumulating ecosystems where primary production exceeds organic matter decomposition rates in the soil, and therefore perform an important sink function in global carbon cycling. Typical peatland plant and microbial communities are adapted to the waterlogged, often acidic and low nutrient conditions that characterise them. Peatlands in coastal locations receive inputs of oceanic base cations that shift conditions from the environmental optimum of these communities altering the carbon balance. Blanket bogs are one such type of peatlands occurring in hyperoceanic regions. Using a blanket bog to coastal marsh transect in Northwest Scotland we assess the impacts of salt intrusion on carbon accumulation rates. A threshold concentration of salt input, caused by inundation, exists corresponding to rapid acidophilic to halophilic plant community change and a carbon accumulation decline. For the first time, we map areas of blanket bog vulnerable to sea-level rise, estimating that this equates to ~7.4% of the total extent and a 0.22 Tg yr(-1) carbon sink. Globally, tropical peatlands face the proportionally greatest risk with ~61,000 km(2) (~16.6% of total) lying ≤5 m elevation. In total an estimated 20.2 ± 2.5 GtC is stored in peatlands ≤5 m above sea level, which are potentially vulnerable to inundation.

Concepts: Water, Soil, Marsh, Coal, Peat, Carbon cycle, Bog, Bord na Móna


Microcystis population and microcystin (MC) dynamics were investigated in western Lake Erie coastal wetlands and downstream beach water. A three-dimensional (3-D) model was developed to quantify how Microcystis population size and structure affect MCs.

Concepts: Marsh, Wetland, Biome, Ecosystem services, Bog, Fen, Wetlands


Here we used organic composition and stable isotopic analysis to evaluate the effects of drainage and restoration at an ombrotrophic peatland, to assess whether rewetting of blanket bogs will reverse degradation. The organic composition of the peat and the isotopic fractionation between the solid (peat), liquid (pore water) and gas (soil gas) phases on actively accumulating, degrading and restored locations are compared. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis of the organic material has shown a high level of humification (low decomposition) in the active peat. Stable isotope analysis in the solid, liquid and gas phases has corresponded with this and indicated that the active location is enriched in (13)C in the solid and gas phases, (15)N in the solid phase, (18)O in the liquid and gas phases and D in the liquid phase, suggesting a closed system with limited isotopic fractionation and thus limited water movement and decomposition. The degrading location has a lower level of humification, and is depleted in (13)C in the solid phase due to ingression of vascular plants. The restored location has high humification and enrichment of (13)C and (15)N in the solid phase, and D in the liquid phase suggesting increased microbial activity. (13)C and (18)O in the gas phase and (18)O in the liquid phase are depleted, as a result of microbial mediated gas production and rewetting. FTIR analysis has also indicated a subsurface zone of increased decomposition between the acrotelm and catotelm in both the active and degrading peat. This is due to a stable water table and is not present within the restored location, which we attribute to water table fluctuation associated with rewetting. This zone of increased decomposition adds to the complexity of blanket bog peatlands and the assumption that all systems can be generalized under one conceptual model.

Concepts: Water, Soil, Liquid, Emulsion, Peat, Phases of matter, Bog, Isotope analysis


A large proportion of the world’s tropical peatlands occur in Indonesia where rapid conversion and associated losses of carbon, biodiversity and ecosystem services have brought peatland management to the forefront of Indonesia’s climate mitigation efforts. We evaluated peat volume from two commonly referenced maps of peat distribution and depth published by Wetlands International (WI) and the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), and used regionally specific values of carbon density to calculate carbon stocks.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Soil, Ecosystem, Fossil fuel, Coal, Ecosystem services, Bog, Everglades


Wetlands are the largest natural source of atmospheric methane. Here, we assess controls on methane flux using a database of approximately 19 000 instantaneous measurements from 71 wetland sites located across subtropical, temperate, and northern high latitude regions. Our analyses confirm general controls on wetland methane emissions from soil temperature, water table, and vegetation, but also show that these relationships are modified depending on wetland type (bog, fen, or swamp), region (subarctic to temperate), and disturbance. Fen methane flux was more sensitive to vegetation and less sensitive to temperature than bog or swamp fluxes. The optimal water table for methane flux was consistently below the peat surface in bogs, close to the peat surface in poor fens, and above the peat surface in rich fens. However, the largest flux in bogs occurred when dry 30-day averaged antecedent conditions were followed by wet conditions, while in fens and swamps, the largest flux occurred when both 30-day averaged antecedent and current conditions were wet. Drained wetlands exhibited distinct characteristics, e.g. the absence of large flux following wet and warm conditions, suggesting that the same functional relationships between methane flux and environmental conditions cannot be used across pristine and disturbed wetlands. Together, our results suggest that water table and temperature are dominant controls on methane flux in pristine bogs and swamps, while other processes, such as vascular transport in pristine fens, have the potential to partially override the effect of these controls in other wetland types. Because wetland types vary in methane emissions and have distinct controls, these ecosystems need to be considered separately to yield reliable estimates of global wetland methane release.

Concepts: Soil, Marsh, Wetland, Swamp, Bog, Fen, Biodiversity Action Plan, Wetlands


Bacteria play critical roles in peatland ecosystems. However, very little is known of how habitat heterogeneity affects the structure of the bacterial communities in these ecosystems. Here, we used amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA and nifH genes to investigate phylogenetic diversity and bacterial community composition in three different sub-Antarctic peat bog aquatic habitats: Sphagnum magellanicum interstitial water, and water from vegetated and non-vegetated pools. Total and putative nitrogen-fixing bacterial communities from Sphagnum interstitial water differed significantly from vegetated and non-vegetated pool communities (which were colonized by the same bacterial populations), probably as a result of differences in water chemistry and biotic interactions. Total bacterial communities from pools contained typically aquatic taxa, and were more dissimilar in composition and less species rich than those from Sphagnum interstitial waters (which were enriched in taxa typically from soils), probably reflecting the reduced connectivity between the former habitats. These results show that bacterial communities in peatland water habitats are highly diverse and structured by multiple concurrent factors.

Concepts: Archaea, Organism, Soil, Coal, Peat, Bog, Bord na Móna, Sphagnum


The UK hosts 15-19% of global upland ombrotrophic (rain fed) peatlands that are estimated to store 3.2 billion tonnes of carbon and represent a critical upland habitat with regard to biodiversity and ecosystem services provision. Net production is dependent on an imbalance between growth of peat-forming Sphagnum mosses and microbial decomposition by microorganisms that are limited by cold, acidic, and anaerobic conditions. In the Southern Pennines, land-use change, drainage, and over 200 years of anthropogenic N and heavy metal deposition have contributed to severe peatland degradation manifested as a loss of vegetation leaving bare peat susceptible to erosion and deep gullying. A restoration programme designed to regain peat hydrology, stability and functionality has involved re-vegetation through nurse grass, dwarf shrub and Sphagnum re-introduction. Our aim was to characterise bacterial and fungal communities, via high-throughput rRNA gene sequencing, in the surface acrotelm/mesotelm of degraded bare peat, long-term stable vegetated peat, and natural and managed restorations. Compared to long-term vegetated areas the bare peat microbiome had significantly higher levels of oligotrophic marker phyla (Acidobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, TM6) and lower Bacteroidetes and Actinobacteria, together with much higher ligninolytic Basidiomycota. Fewer distinct microbial sequences and significantly fewer cultivable microbes were detected in bare peat compared to other areas. Microbial community structure was linked to restoration activity and correlated with soil edaphic variables (e.g. moisture and heavy metals). Although rapid community changes were evident following restoration activity, restored bare peat did not approach a similar microbial community structure to non-eroded areas even after 25 years, which may be related to the stabilisation of historic deposited heavy metals pollution in long-term stable areas. These primary findings are discussed in relation to bare peat oligotrophy, re-vegetation recalcitrance, rhizosphere-microbe-soil interactions, C, N and P cycling, trajectory of restoration, and ecosystem service implications for peatland restoration.

Concepts: Bacteria, Biodiversity, Microbiology, Soil, Microorganism, Heavy metal music, Peat, Bog


The unique environment of a 4m-thick, free-floating peat island within the Posta Fibreno lake (Central Italy) was analyzed using DNA-based techniques to assess bacterial and fungal community members identity and abundance. Two depths were sampled at 41 and 279 cm from the surface, the former corresponding to an emerged portion of Sphagnum residues accumulated less than 30 yrs ago, and the latter mainly consisting of silty peat belonging to the deeply submerged part of the island, dating back to 1520-1660 AD. The corresponding communities were very diverse, each of them dominated by a different member of the Delta-proteobacteria class for prokaryotes. Among Eukaryotes, Ascomycota prevailed in the shallow layer while Basidiomycota were abundant in the deep sample. The identity of taxa partitioning between acidic surface layer and neutral core is very reminiscent of the differences reported between bogs and fens respectively, supporting the view of Posta Fibreno as a relic transitional floating mire. Moreover, some microbial taxa show an unusual concurrent species convergence between this sub-Mediterranean site and far Nordic or circumpolar environments. This study represents the first report describing the biotic assemblages of such a peculiar environment, and provides some insights into the possible mechanisms of its evolution.

Concepts: Archaea, Bacteria, Organism, Microbiology, Eukaryote, Fungus, Bog, Fen