Date of Award
Master of Science in Applied Ecology (MS)
College, School or Department Name
School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science
Rodney A Chimner
Boreal peatlands contain approximately one third of the global soil carbon and are considered net sinks of atmospheric CO2. Water level position is one of the main regulators of CO2 fluxes in northern peatlands because it controls both the thickness of the aerobic layer in peat and plant communities. However, little is known about the role of different plant functional groups and their possible interaction with changing water level in boreal peatlands with regard to CO2 cycling. Climate change may also accelerate changes in hydrological conditions, changing both aerobic conditions and plant communities. To help answer these questions, this study was conducted at a mesocosm facility in Northern Michigan where the aim was to experimentally study the effects of water levels, plant functional groups (sedges, shrubs and mosses) and the possible interaction of these on the CO2 cycle of a boreal peatland ecosystem.
The results indicate that Ericaceous shrubs are important in the boreal peatland CO2 cycle. The removal of these plants decreased ecosystem respiration, gross ecosystem production and net ecosystem exchange rates, whereas removing sedges did not show any significant differences in the flux rates. The water level did not significantly affect the flux rates. The amount of aboveground sedge biomass was higher in the low water level sedge treatment plots compared to the high water level sedge plots, possibly because the lowered water level and the removal of Ericaceae released nutrients for sedges to use up.
Matkala, Laura M., "Influence of Vegetation Removal and Altering Water Levels on CO2 Flux Rates of a Northern Bog", Master's Thesis, Michigan Technological University, 2013.