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Variation in carbon and nitrogen concentrations among peatland categories at the global scale

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jenny Farmer



This is the final published version of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Public Library of Science, 2022.

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© 2022 This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.Peatlands account for 15 to 30% of the world's soil carbon (C) stock and are important controls over global nitrogen (N) cycles. However, C and N concentrations are known to vary among peatlands contributing to the uncertainty of global C inventories, but there are few global studies that relate peatland classification to peat chemistry. We analyzed 436 peat cores sampled in 24 countries across six continents and measured C, N, and organic matter (OM) content at three depths down to 70 cm. Sites were distinguished between northern (387) and tropical (49) peatlands and assigned to one of six distinct broadly recognized peatland categories that vary primarily along a pH gradient. Peat C and N concentrations, OM content, and C:N ratios differed significantly among peatland categories, but few differences in chemistry with depth were found within each category. Across all peatlands C and N concentrations in the 10-20 cm layer, were 440 ± 85.1 g kg-1 and 13.9 ± 7.4 g kg-1, with an average C:N ratio of 30.1 ± 20.8. Among peatland categories, median C concentrations were highest in bogs, poor fens and tropical swamps (446-532 g kg-1) and lowest in intermediate and extremely rich fens (375-414 g kg-1). The C:OM ratio in peat was similar across most peatland categories, except in deeper samples from ombrotrophic tropical peat swamps that were higher than other peatlands categories. Peat N concentrations and C:N ratios varied approximately two-fold among peatland categories and N concentrations tended to be higher (and C:N lower) in intermediate fens compared with other peatland types. This study reports on a unique data set and demonstrates that differences in peat C and OM concentrations among broadly classified peatland categories are predictable, which can aid future studies that use land cover assessments to refine global peatland C and N stocks.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Watmough S, Gilbert-Parkes S, Basiliko N, Lamit LJ, Lilleskov EA, Andersen R, del Aguila-Pasquel J, Artz RE, Benscoter BW, Borken W, Bragazza L, Brandt SM, Brauer SL, Carson MA, Chen X, Chimner RA, Clarkson BR, Cobb AR, Enriquez AS, Farmer J, Grover SP, Harvey CF, Harris LI, Hazard C, Hoyt AM, Hribljan J, Jauhiainen J, Juutinen S, Kane ES, Knorr K-H, Kolka R, Kononen M, Laine AM, Larmola T, Levasseur PA, McCalley CK, McLaughlin J, Moore TR, Mykytczuk N, Normand AE, Rich V, Robinson B, Rupp DL, Rutherford J, Schadt CW, Smith DS, Spiers G, Tedersoo L, Thu PQ, Trettin CC, Tuittila E-S, Turetsky M, Urbanova Z, Varner RK, Waldrop MP, Wang M, Wang Z, Warren M, Wiedermann MM, Williams ST, Yavitt JB, Yu Z-G, Zahn G

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS ONE

Year: 2022

Volume: 17

Issue: 11

Online publication date: 23/11/2022

Acceptance date: 12/09/2022

Date deposited: 13/12/2022

ISSN (electronic): 1932-6203

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0275149

PubMed id: 36417456


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Funder referenceFunder name
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Grants to Shaun Watmough (#311794) and Nathan Basiliko (#341381)
US National Science Foundation [grant number DEB-1146149] to E.S. Kane and E.A. Lilleskov.
USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station Climate Change Program