Article

Peatlands

Dale H. Vitt

in Ecology

ISBN: 9780199830060
Published online May 2012 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0035
Peatlands

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  • Applied Ecology (Environmental Science)
  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Plant Ecology
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Peatland ecosystems are characterized by a substantial accumulation of organic matter in soil (peat), resulting from long-term excess of net primary production at the surface compared to decomposition throughout the peat column. Globally, peatlands cover 3–4 percent of the earth’s land surface, yet they store 25–30 percent of the world’s soil carbon (about 455 Pg of C) and 9–16 percent of the world’s soil nitrogen (8–15 Pg of N) in peat. These large stores of C and N are especially vulnerable to global climate change. Although peatlands occur from the tropics to the arctic, it is in the boreal region where peatlands are most abundant. The presence of a well-developed ground layer of mosses along with either abundant shrubs or sedges makes the population and community ecology of these ecosystems interesting and challenging. The high water table, presence of anoxia, and isolation from all nutrient inputs, except the atmosphere in some peatlands (bogs), present unique opportunities to study the hydrology and biogeochemistry.

Article.  10601 words. 

Subjects: Applied Ecology (Environmental Science) ; Ecology and Conservation ; Plant Ecology ; Zoology and Animal Sciences

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