Combining short-term manipulative experiments with long-term palaeoecological investigations at high resolution to assess the response of Sphagnum peatlands to drought, fire and warming

Northern hemisphere peatlands are substantial carbon stores. However, recent climate change and human impacts (e.g., drainage and atmospheric nutrient deposition) may trigger the emission of their stored carbon to the atmosphere. Biodiversity losses are also an important consequence of those changes. Therefore, there is a need to recognise these processes in space and time. Global change experiments are often conducted to improve our understanding of the potential responses of various ecosystems to global warming and drought. Most of the experiments carried out in peatlands are focused on carbon balance and nitrogen deposition. Nevertheless, it is still unclear how fast peatlands respond to temperature changes and water-table lowering in the continental climate setting. This is important because continental regions account for a significant proportion of all northern hemisphere peatlands. A combination of short-term and long-term approaches in a single research project is especially helpful because it facilitates the correct interpretation of experimental data. Here we describe the CLIMPEAT project - a manipulative field experiment in a Sphagnum-dominated peatland supported by a high-resolution multi-proxy palaeoecological study. The design of the field experiment (e.g., treatments), methodology and biogeographical setting are presented. We suggest it is beneficial to support field experiments with an investigation of past environmental changes in the studied ecosystem, as human impacts during the past 300 years have already caused substantial changes in ecosystem functioning which may condition the response in experimental studies.

Published in:
Mires And Peat, 18, UNSP 20
Dundee, Int Peat Soc

 Record created 2017-01-24, last modified 2018-12-03

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