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Vascular plants promote ancient peatland carbon loss with climate warming.
Glob Chang Biol 2016; 22(5):1880-9GC

Abstract

Northern peatlands have accumulated one third of the Earth's soil carbon stock since the last Ice Age. Rapid warming across northern biomes threatens to accelerate rates of peatland ecosystem respiration. Despite compensatory increases in net primary production, greater ecosystem respiration could signal the release of ancient, century- to millennia-old carbon from the peatland organic matter stock. Warming has already been shown to promote ancient peatland carbon release, but, despite the key role of vegetation in carbon dynamics, little is known about how plants influence the source of peatland ecosystem respiration. Here, we address this issue using in situ (14)C measurements of ecosystem respiration on an established peatland warming and vegetation manipulation experiment. Results show that warming of approximately 1 °C promotes respiration of ancient peatland carbon (up to 2100 years old) when dwarf-shrubs or graminoids are present, an effect not observed when only bryophytes are present. We demonstrate that warming likely promotes ancient peatland carbon release via its control over organic inputs from vascular plants. Our findings suggest that dwarf-shrubs and graminoids prime microbial decomposition of previously 'locked-up' organic matter from potentially deep in the peat profile, facilitating liberation of ancient carbon as CO2. Furthermore, such plant-induced peat respiration could contribute up to 40% of ecosystem CO2 emissions. If consistent across other subarctic and arctic ecosystems, this represents a considerable fraction of ecosystem respiration that is currently not acknowledged by global carbon cycle models. Ultimately, greater contribution of ancient carbon to ecosystem respiration may signal the loss of a previously stable peatland carbon pool, creating potential feedbacks to future climate change.

Authors+Show Affiliations

Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester, Michael Smith Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PT, UK. Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4AP, UK.NERC Radiocarbon Facility, Scottish Enterprise Technology Park, Rankine Avenue, East Kilbride, Glasgow, G75 0QF, UK.Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK.Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4AP, UK.Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester, Michael Smith Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PT, UK.Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4YQ, UK. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Lancaster Environment Centre, Library Avenue, Bailrigg, Lancaster, LA1 4AP, UK.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

Language

eng

PubMed ID

26730448

Citation

Walker, Tom N., et al. "Vascular Plants Promote Ancient Peatland Carbon Loss With Climate Warming." Global Change Biology, vol. 22, no. 5, 2016, pp. 1880-9.
Walker TN, Garnett MH, Ward SE, et al. Vascular plants promote ancient peatland carbon loss with climate warming. Glob Chang Biol. 2016;22(5):1880-9.
Walker, T. N., Garnett, M. H., Ward, S. E., Oakley, S., Bardgett, R. D., & Ostle, N. J. (2016). Vascular plants promote ancient peatland carbon loss with climate warming. Global Change Biology, 22(5), pp. 1880-9. doi:10.1111/gcb.13213.
Walker TN, et al. Vascular Plants Promote Ancient Peatland Carbon Loss With Climate Warming. Glob Chang Biol. 2016;22(5):1880-9. PubMed PMID: 26730448.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Vascular plants promote ancient peatland carbon loss with climate warming. AU - Walker,Tom N, AU - Garnett,Mark H, AU - Ward,Susan E, AU - Oakley,Simon, AU - Bardgett,Richard D, AU - Ostle,Nicholas J, Y1 - 2016/03/08/ PY - 2015/09/10/received PY - 2015/11/22/revised PY - 2015/12/18/accepted PY - 2016/1/6/entrez PY - 2016/1/6/pubmed PY - 2016/12/15/medline KW - climate warming KW - dwarf-shrubs KW - ecosystem respiration KW - graminoids KW - peatlands KW - priming KW - radiocarbon KW - vegetation change SP - 1880 EP - 9 JF - Global change biology JO - Glob Chang Biol VL - 22 IS - 5 N2 - Northern peatlands have accumulated one third of the Earth's soil carbon stock since the last Ice Age. Rapid warming across northern biomes threatens to accelerate rates of peatland ecosystem respiration. Despite compensatory increases in net primary production, greater ecosystem respiration could signal the release of ancient, century- to millennia-old carbon from the peatland organic matter stock. Warming has already been shown to promote ancient peatland carbon release, but, despite the key role of vegetation in carbon dynamics, little is known about how plants influence the source of peatland ecosystem respiration. Here, we address this issue using in situ (14)C measurements of ecosystem respiration on an established peatland warming and vegetation manipulation experiment. Results show that warming of approximately 1 °C promotes respiration of ancient peatland carbon (up to 2100 years old) when dwarf-shrubs or graminoids are present, an effect not observed when only bryophytes are present. We demonstrate that warming likely promotes ancient peatland carbon release via its control over organic inputs from vascular plants. Our findings suggest that dwarf-shrubs and graminoids prime microbial decomposition of previously 'locked-up' organic matter from potentially deep in the peat profile, facilitating liberation of ancient carbon as CO2. Furthermore, such plant-induced peat respiration could contribute up to 40% of ecosystem CO2 emissions. If consistent across other subarctic and arctic ecosystems, this represents a considerable fraction of ecosystem respiration that is currently not acknowledged by global carbon cycle models. Ultimately, greater contribution of ancient carbon to ecosystem respiration may signal the loss of a previously stable peatland carbon pool, creating potential feedbacks to future climate change. SN - 1365-2486 UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/26730448/Vascular_plants_promote_ancient_peatland_carbon_loss_with_climate_warming_ L2 - https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.13213 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -