Impacts of peat bulk density, ash deposition and rainwater chemistry on establishment of peatland mosses.
ABSTRACT: Background and aims:Peatland moss communities play an important role in ecosystem function. Drivers such as fire and atmospheric pollution have the capacity to influence mosses via multiple pathways. Here, we investigate physical and chemical processes which may influence establishment and growth of three key moss species in peatlands. Methods:A controlled factorial experiment investigated the effects of different peat bulk density, ash deposition and rainwater chemistry treatments on the growth of Sphagnum capillifolium, S. fallax and Campylopus introflexus. Results:Higher peat bulk density limited growth of both Sphagnum species. S. capillifolium and C. introflexus responded positively to ash deposition. Less polluted rain limited growth of C. introflexus. Biomass was well correlated with percentage cover in all three species. Conclusions:Peat bulk density increases caused by fire or drainage can limit Sphagnum establishment and growth, potentially threatening peatland function. Ash inputs may have direct benefits for some Sphagnum species, but are also likely to increase competition from other bryophytes and vascular plants which may offset positive effects. Rainwater pollution may similarly increase competition to Sphagnum, and could enhance positive effects of ash addition on C. introflexus growth. Finally, cover can provide a useful approximation of biomass where destructive sampling is undesirable.
Project description:Peatland ecosystem services include drinking water provision, flood mitigation, habitat provision and carbon sequestration. Dissolved organic carbon (DOC) removal is a key treatment process for the supply of potable water downstream from peat-dominated catchments. A transition from peat-forming Sphagnum moss to vascular plants has been observed in peatlands degraded by (a) land management, (b) atmospheric deposition and (c) climate change. Here within we show that the presence of vascular plants with higher annual above-ground biomass production leads to a seasonal addition of labile plant material into the peatland ecosystem as litter recalcitrance is lower. The net effect will be a smaller litter carbon pool due to higher rates of decomposition, and a greater seasonal pattern of DOC flux. Conventional water treatment involving coagulation-flocculation-sedimentation may be impeded by vascular plant-derived DOC. It has been shown that vascular plant-derived DOC is more difficult to remove via these methods than DOC derived from Sphagnum, whilst also being less susceptible to microbial mineralisation before reaching the treatment works. These results provide evidence that practices aimed at re-establishing Sphagnum moss on degraded peatlands could reduce costs and improve efficacy at water treatment works, offering an alternative to 'end-of-pipe' solutions through management of ecosystem service provision.
Project description:Peatlands have acted as C-sinks for millennia, storing large amounts of carbon, of which a significant amount is yearly released as methane (CH4). Sphagnum mosses are a key genus in many peat ecosystems and these mosses live in close association with methane-oxidizing and nitrogen-fixing microorganisms. To disentangle mechanisms which may control Sphagnum-associated methane-oxidation and nitrogen-fixation, we applied four treatments to Sphagnum mosses from a pristine peatland in Finland: nitrogen fertilization, phosphorus fertilization, CH4 addition and light. N and P fertilization resulted in nutrient accumulation in the moss tissue, but did not increase Sphagnum growth. While net CO2 fixation rates remained unaffected in the N and P treatment, net CH4 emissions decreased because of enhanced CH4 oxidation. CH4 addition did not affect Sphagnum performance in the present set-up. Light, however, clearly stimulated the activity of associated nitrogen-fixing and methane-oxidizing microorganisms, increasing N2 fixation rates threefold and CH4 oxidation rates fivefold. This underlines the strong connection between Sphagnum and associated N2 fixation and CH4 oxidation. It furthermore indicates that phototrophy is a strong control of microbial activity, which can be directly or indirectly.
Project description:Sphagnum microbiomes play an important role in the northern peatland ecosystems. However, information about above and belowground microbiomes related to Sphagnum at subtropical area remains largely limited. In this study, microbial communities from Sphagnum palustre peat, S. palustre green part, and S. palustre brown part at the Dajiuhu Peatland, in central China were investigated via 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Results indicated that Alphaproteobacteria was the dominant class in all samples, and the classes Acidobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria were abundant in S. palustre peat and S. palustre brown part samples, respectively. In contrast, the class Cyanobacteria dominated in S. palustre green part samples. Microhabitat differentiation mainly contributes to structural differences of bacterial microbiome. In the S. palustre peat, microbial communities were significantly shaped by water table and total nitrogen content. Our study is a systematical investigation on above and belowground bacterial microbiome in a subalpine Sphagnum peatland and the results offer new knowledge about the distribution of bacterial microbiome associated with different microhabitats in subtropical area.
Project description:Northern temperate forest soils and Sphagnum-dominated peatlands are a major source and sink of methane. In these ecosystems, methane is mainly oxidized by aerobic methanotrophic bacteria, which are typically found in aerated forest soils, surface peat, and Sphagnum moss. We contrasted methanotrophic bacterial diversity and abundances from the (i) organic horizon of forest soil; (ii) surface peat; and (iii) submerged Sphagnum moss from Cranesville Swamp Preserve, West Virginia, using multiplex sequencing of bacterial 16S rRNA (V3 region) gene amplicons. From ~1 million reads, >50,000 unique OTUs (Operational Taxonomic Units), 29 and 34 unique sequences were detected in the Methylococcaceae and Methylocystaceae, respectively, and 24 potential methanotrophs in the Beijerinckiaceae were also identified. Methylacidiphilum-like methanotrophs were not detected. Proteobacterial methanotrophic bacteria constitute <2% of microbiota in these environments, with the Methylocystaceae one to two orders of magnitude more abundant than the Methylococcaceae in all environments sampled. The Methylococcaceae are also less diverse in forest soil compared to the other two habitats. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling analyses indicated that the majority of methanotrophs from the Methylococcaceae and Methylocystaceae tend to occur in one habitat only (peat or Sphagnum moss) or co-occurred in both Sphagnum moss and peat. This study provides insights into the structure of methanotrophic communities in relationship to habitat type, and suggests that peat and Sphagnum moss can influence methanotroph community structure and biogeography.
Project description:The importance of characterizing the ecohydrological interactions in natural, damaged/drained, and restored bogs is underscored by the importance of peatlands to global climate change and the growing need for peatland restoration. An understudied aspect of peatland ecohydrology is how shallow lateral flow impacts local hydrological conditions and water balance, which are critical for peatland restoration success. A novel method is presented using microcosms installed in the field to understand the dynamics of shallow lateral flow. Analysis of the difference in water table fluctuation inside and outside the microcosm experimental areas allowed the water balance to be constrained and the calculation of lateral flow and evapotranspiration. As an initial demonstration of this method, a series of four microcosm experiments were set up in locations with differing ecological quality and land management histories, on a raised bog complex in the midlands of Ireland. The timing and magnitude of the lateral flow differed considerably between locations with differing ecological conditions, indicating that shallow lateral flow is an important determining factor in the ecohydrological trajectory of a recovering bog system. For locations where Sphagnum spp. moss layer was present, a slow continuous net lateral input of water from the upstream catchment area supported the water table during drought periods, which was not observed in locations lacking Sphagnum. Consistent with other studies, evapotranspiration was greater in locations with a Spaghnum moss layer than in locations with a surface of peat soil.
Project description:Unveiling past tipping points is a prerequisite for a better understanding of how individual species and entire ecosystems will respond to future climate change. Such knowledge is key for the implementation of biodiversity conservation. We identify the relationships between peatland vegetation and hydrological conditions over the past 2000 years using plant macrofossils, testate amoebae-based quantitative hydrological reconstructions and Sphagnum-moss functional traits from seven Polish peatland records. Using threshold indicator taxa analysis, we discovered that plant community composition strongly converged at a water level of ca 11.7 cm, indicating a community-level tipping point. We identified 45 plant taxa that showed either an increase or a decrease in their relative abundance between 8 and 17 cm of water-level depth. Our analysis of Sphagnum community traits further showed that Sphagnum functional diversity was remarkably stable over time despite Sphagnum species sensitivity to hydrological conditions. Our results suggest that past hydrological shifts did not influence major functions of the Sphagnum community, such as photosynthetic capacity, growth and productivity, owing to species replacement with a similar functional space. Although further studies including trait plasticity will be required, our findings suggest that the capacity of the Sphagnum community to gain carbon remained stable despite hydrological changes.
Project description:Sphagnum-associated microbiomes are crucial to Sphagnum growth and peatland ecological functions. However, roles of rare species in bacterial communities across Sphagnum compartments are poorly understood. Here the structures of rare taxa (RT) and conditionally abundant and rare taxa (CART) from Sphagnum palustre peat (SP), S. palustre ectosphere (Ecto) and S. palustre endosphere (Endo) were investigated in the Dajiuhu Peatland, central China. Our results showed that plant compartment effects significantly altered the diversities and structures of bacterial communities. The Observed species and Simpson indices of RT and CART in alpha diversity significantly increased from Endo to SP, with those of Ecto in-between. The variations of community dissimilarities of RT and CART among compartments were consistent with those of whole bacterial communities (WBC). Network analysis indicated a non-random co-occurrence pattern of WBC and all keystone species are affiliated with RT and CART, indicating their important role in sustaining the WBC. Furthermore, the community structures of RT and CART in SP were significantly shaped by water table and total nitrogen content, which coincided with the correlations between WBC and environmental factors. Collectively, our results for the first time confirm the importance of rare species to bacterial communities through structural and predicted functional analyses, which expands our understanding of rare species in Sphagnum-associated microbial communities in subalpine peatlands.
Project description:As builders and major components of peatlands, Sphagnopsida (peat mosses) are very important organisms for ecosystems and world's climate. Nowadays many Sphagnum species as well as their habitats are largely protected, while their scientific and economic relevance remains considerable. Advanced methods of in vitro cultivation provide the potential to work in a sustainable way with peat mosses and address aspects of basic research as well as biotechnological and economical topics like biomonitoring or the production of renewable substrates for horticulture (Sphagnum farming). Here, we describe the establishment of axenic in vitro cultures of the five peat moss species Sphagnum fimbriatum Wils. and Hook., Sphagnum magellanicum Brid., Sphagnum palustre L., Sphagnum rubellum Wils. and Sphagnum subnitens Russ. and Warnst. with specific focus on large-scale cultivation of S. palustre in bioreactors. Axenic, clonal cultures were established to produce high quantities of biomass under standardized laboratory conditions. For advanced production of S. palustre we tested different cultivation techniques, growth media and inocula, and analyzed the effects of tissue disruption. While cultivation on solid medium is suitable for long term storage, submerse cultivation in liquid medium yielded highest amounts of biomass. By addition of sucrose and ammonium nitrate we were able to increase the biomass by around 10- to 30-fold within 4 weeks. The morphology of in vitro-cultivated gametophores showed similar phenotypic characteristics compared to material from the field. Thus the tested culture techniques are suitable to produce S. palustre material for basic and applied research.
Project description:Peat mosses (Sphagnum) largely govern carbon sequestration in Northern Hemisphere peatlands. We investigated functional traits related to growth and decomposition in Sphagnum species. We tested the importance of environment and phylogeny in driving species traits and investigated trade-offs among them. We selected 15 globally important Sphagnum species, representing four sections (subgenera) and a range of peatland habitats. We measured rates of photosynthesis and decomposition in standard laboratory conditions as measures of innate growth and decay potential, and related this to realized growth, production, and decomposition in their natural habitats. In general, we found support for a trade-off between measures of growth and decomposition. However, the relationships are not strong, with r ranging between 0.24 and 0.45 for different measures of growth versus decomposition. Using photosynthetic rate to predict decomposition in standard conditions yielded R (2) = 0.20. Habitat and section (phylogeny) affected the traits and the trade-offs. In a wet year, species from sections Cuspidata and Sphagnum had the highest production, but in a dry year, differences among species, sections, and habitats evened out. Cuspidata species in general produced easily decomposable litter, but their decay in the field was hampered, probably due to near-surface anoxia in their wet habitats. In a principal components analysis, PCA, photosynthetic capacity, production, and laboratory decomposition acted in the same direction. The species were imperfectly clustered according to vegetation type and phylogeny, so that some species clustered with others in the same section, whereas others clustered more clearly with others from similar vegetation types. Our study includes a wider range of species and habitats than previous trait analyses in Sphagnum and shows that while the previously described growth-decay trade-off exists, it is far from perfect. We therefore suggest that our species-specific trait measures offer opportunities for improvements of peatland ecosystem models. Innate qualities measured in laboratory conditions translate differently to field responses. Most dramatically, fast-growing species could only realize their potential in a wet year. The same species decompose fast in laboratory, but their decomposition was more retarded in the field than that of other species. These relationships are crucial for understanding the long-term dynamics of peatland communities.
Project description:We discovered a 50-cm-thick peat deposit near Cape Rasmussen (65.2°S), in the maritime Antarctic. To our knowledge, while aerobic 'moss banks' have often been examined, waterlogged 'peatlands' have never been described in this region before. The waterlogged system is approximately 100?m2, with a shallow water table. Surface vegetation is dominated by Warnstorfia fontinaliopsis, a wet-adapted moss commonly found in the Antarctic Peninsula. Peat inception was dated at 2750?cal. BP and was followed by relatively rapid peat accumulation (~0.1?cm/year) until 2150?cal. BP. Our multi-proxy analysis then shows a 2000-year-long stratigraphic hiatus as well as the recent resurgence of peat accumulation, sometime after 1950 AD. The existence of a thriving peatland at 2700-2150?cal. BP implies regionally warm summer conditions extending beyond the mid-Holocene; this finding is corroborated by many regional records showing moss bank initiation and decreased sea ice extent during this time period. Recent peatland recovery at the study site (<50 years ago) might have been triggered by ongoing rapid warming, as the area is experiencing climatic conditions approaching those found on milder, peatland-rich sub-Antarctic islands (50-60°S). Assuming that colonization opportunities and stabilization mechanisms would allow peat to persist in Antarctica, our results suggest that longer and warmer growing seasons in the maritime Antarctic region may promote a more peatland-rich landscape in the future.