Organic composition and multiphase stable isotope analysis of active, degrading and restored blanket bog

Laura McAnallen, Rory Doherty, Neil Ogle

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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Here we used organic composition and stable isotopic analysis to evaluate the effects of drainage and restoration at an ombrotrophic peatland, to assess whether rewetting of blanket bogs will reverse degradation. The organic composition of the peat and the isotopic fractionation between the solid (peat), liquid (pore water) and gas (soil gas) phases on actively accumulating, degrading and restored locations are compared. Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) analysis of the organic material has shown a high level of humification (low decomposition) in the active peat. Stable isotope analysis in the solid, liquid and gas phases has corresponded with this and indicated that the active location is enriched in 13C in the solid and gas phases, 15N in the solid phase, 18O in the liquid and gas phases and D in the liquid phase, suggesting a closed system with limited isotopic fractionation and thus limited water movement and decomposition. The degrading location has a lower level of humification, and is depleted in 13C in the solid phase due to ingression of vascular plants. The restored location has high humification and enrichment of 13C and 15N in the solid phase, and D in the liquid phase suggesting increased microbial activity. 13C and 18O in the gas phase and 18O in the liquid phase are depleted, as a result of microbial mediated gas production and rewetting. FTIR analysis has also indicated a subsurface zone of increased decomposition between the acrotelm and catotelm in both the active and degrading peat. This is due to a stable water table and is not present within the restored location, which we attribute to water table fluctuation associated with rewetting. This zone of increased decomposition adds to the complexity of blanket bog peatlands and the assumption that all systems can be generalized under one conceptual model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1779-1790
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date20 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 01 Dec 2017

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