Linking soil moisture conditions with carbon accumulation rates in a Patagonian peatland

Authors: Kirsten Bevan*, Texas A&M, Julie Loisel, Professor
Topics: Soils
Keywords: Peat, soil moisture, paleoclimate
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Napoleon Foyer/Common St. Corridor, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Recent temperature increases have complex implications for ecosystems globally, but are especially significant in high-latitude regions. Large amounts of stored carbon in the soils, including peatlands, have the potential to have a notable impact on the future climate. Because warming temperatures increase peat decomposition and encourage biomass growth, it is complicated to assess the holistic implications of climate change on peatland systems. Here we analyze long-term peat accumulation rates in association with a soil moisture reconstruction to assess the sensitivity of peatland carbon dynamics to hydroclimatic conditions. To do so, we combine peat-core based carbon content analysis with testate amoebae-inferred water table depth reconstruction and age-depth modeling. Our analyses are performed at high resolution along a core from southern Patagonia; this site records intriguing, rapid shifts between wet and dry plant assemblages during the mid-Holocene, as well as unusually high peat accumulation rates. Preliminary analysis from our surface sample calibration set suggests that testate amoeba will help us reconstruct and quantify past hydrologic changes and their interpreted effects on peat accumulation, as different taxa have shown to be sensitive to soil moisture. Overall, this reconstruction will bolster knowledge of paleoclimatic environments and efforts to understand peatland dynamics. As climate keeps changing in the coming decades and centuries, this information is a valuable tool as we look to better understand peatlands and their extensive impact on global carbon cycling.

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