Questioning ten common assumptions about peatlands

University of Leeds Peat Club

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Peatlands have been widely studied in terms of their ecohydrology, carbon dynamics, ecosystem services and palaeoenvironmental archives. However, several assumptions are frequently made about peatlands in the academic literature, practitioner reports and the popular media which are either ambiguous or in some cases incorrect. Here we discuss the following ten common assumptions about peatlands: 1. the northern peatland carbon store will shrink under a warming climate; 2. peatlands are fragile ecosystems; 3. wet peatlands have greater rates of net carbon accumulation; 4. different rules apply to tropical peatlands; 5. peat is a single soil type; 6. peatlands behave like sponges; 7. Sphagnum is the main ‘ecosystem engineer’ in peatlands; 8. a single core provides a representative palaeo-archive from a peatland; 9. water-table reconstructions from peatlands provide direct records of past climate change; and 10. restoration of peatlands results in the re-establishment of their carbon sink function. In each case we consider the evidence supporting the assumption and, where appropriate, identify its shortcomings or ways in which it may be misleading.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalMires and Peat
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon
  • Climate
  • Ecosystem
  • Hydrology
  • Peatland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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