Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Ecology (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


Evan S. Kane


Amy M. Marcarelli


Extracellular iron reduction has been suggested as a candidate metabolic pathway that may explain a large proportion of carbon respiration in temperate peatlands. However, the o-phenanthroline colorimetric method commonly employed to quantitate iron and partition between redox species is known to be unreliable in the presence of humic and fulvic acids, both of which represent a considerable proportion of peatland dissolved organic matter. We propose ionic liquid extraction as a more accurate iron quantitation and redox speciation method in humic-rich peat porewater. We evaluated both o-phenanthroline and ionic liquid extraction in four distinct peatland systems spanning a gradient of physico-chemical conditions to compare total iron recovery and Fe2+:Fe3+ ratios determined by each method. Ionic liquid extraction was found to provide more accurate iron quantitation and speciation in the presence of dissolved organic matter. A multivariate approach utilizing fluorescence- and UV-Vis spectroscopy was used to identify dissolved organic matter characteristics in peat porewater that lead to poor performance of the o-phenanthroline method. Where these interferences are present, we offer an empirical correction factor for total iron quantitation by o-phenanthroline, as verified by ionic liquid extraction.

The written work presented in this thesis is in preparation for submission to Soil Biology and Biochemisrty by T.J. Veverica, E.S. Kane, A.M. Marcarelli, and S.A. Green.