Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MicroPEAT (Microbial communities of Temperate, Artic and Tropical peatlands and their role in the response of carbon storage function to global change)
Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2018-04-30
Requirements for field work and sample transport were checked in each study site before to make each field expedition, and corresponding administrative processes were conducted. Summarising, sampling in each region consisted of selecting six undisturbed peatlands sites dominated by mosses and, per triplicate, i) collecting peat cores of 5 x 100 cm and pore water, ii) measuring gas fluxes with static closed chambers, iii) measuring depth, temperature, pH, and conductivity. In the laboratory, an enzymatic profile, following natural layers in depth, was measured together with soil characteristics and metabolism. Soil microbial community, including Fungi, Bacteria, Archaea and Protozoa, of superficial soil layer is currently being assessed using specific primers.
Drought experiments consisted of four stages: i) an initial acclimation period, after extraction and transportation, of minimum 1 month; ii) then a pre-treatment period where all cores were kept waterlogged, around 2 months; iii) then 3 months of drought treatment; and, iv) 15 days of re-wetting. Enzyme activities and quality of pore water and gases emission were measured, as well as enzyme activities, chemistry and metabolism of peat soil. Currently, metagenomics of the microbial community from the experiments is being assessing.
MicroPEAT final results are not available yet but some general conclusions we have got so far are explained below. We have found remarkable differences in environmental characteristics (pH values, nutrients, and phenolic concentrations) among regions linked to variations in peat soil metabolism. For example, lignin degradation was particularly reduced in Wales, were lower pH value and higher phenol concentration were found, while degradation of cellulose and hemicellulose was quite constant among regions. Consequently, punctual gas emissions, measured in the field, suggest Welsh peatlands retain more carbon dioxide than Colombian and Arctic peatlands, but together with Colombian peatlands have more methane emissions (Fig. 2). Finally, preliminary analysis of the responses to drought from the three regions suggests that differential environmental and possibly microbial soil characteristics might are determining contrasting soil metabolism responses to drought. For example, lignin degradation seemed to be suppressed by drought in Colombia while not significant effect was observed in Wales and Arctic peat soil. Currently, several manuscripts are in preparation to disseminate MicroPEAT results.
Specifically for Colombia, MicroPEAT results is one of the first studies linking gas emission, peat soil metabolism, and microbial communities of peatlands from high Andes Mountains. This information contributes to the base-line on moss-dominated peatlands ecology in the Colombian Paramos, and more concretely will give critical knowledge to be used by the Sumapaz NNP employers in the natural park management.
In Wales, MicroPEAT involved collecting samples from peatlands in Welsh Water (drinking water Company in Wales) catchments and final results related to dissolved organic carbon exportation to the catchments and water quality will be supply to the company at the end of the project.
MicroPEAT results from the Arctic have especial relevance due to the rapidly change this environment is suffering related to climate change. The methane stored in polar peaty soils potentially could be released to atmosphere due to changes in temperature and precipitations, accordingly, the understanding of carbon cycle in this environment might help to mitigate the climate change impact. Additionally, MicroPEAT project was included in the Research in Svalbard Database (RiS) and final results will be also sharing through this platform.