Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Forest Ecology and Management (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Rodney A Chimner


Peatlands cover only ~3% of the global land area, but store ~30% of the worlds' soil carbon. There are many different peat types that store different amounts of carbon. Most inventories of carbon storage in northern peatlands have been conducted in the expansive Sphagnum dominated peatlands. Although, northern white cedar peatlands (NW cedar, Thuja occidentalis L.) are also one of the most common peatland types in the Great Lakes Region, occupying more than 2 million hectares. NW cedar swamps are understudied, due in part to the difficulties in collection methods. General lack of rapid and consistent sampling methods has also contributed in a lack of carbon stock quantification for many peatlands. The main objective of this thesis is to quantify: 1) to evaluate peat sampling methods 2) the amount of C-stored and the rates of long-term carbon accumulation in NW cedar peatlands.

We sampled 38 peatlands separated into four categories (black ash, NW cedar swamp, sedge, and Sphagnum) during the summers of 2011/2012 across northern MN and the Upper Peninsula of MI. Basal dates of peat indicate that cedar peatlands were between 1970-7790 years old. Cedar peatlands are generally shallower than Sphagnum peat, but due to their higher bulk density, hold similar amounts of carbon with our sites averaging ~800 MgC ha-1. We estimate that NW cedar peatlands store over 1.7 Gt of carbon in the Great Lakes Region. Each of the six methods evaluated had a different level of accuracy and requires varying levels of effort and resources. The depth only method and intermittent sampling method were the most accurate methods of peatland sampling.