Response of hydrology and CO 2 flux to experimentally altered rainfall frequency in a temperate poor fen, southern Ontario, Canada

Radu, Danielle D.; Duval, Tim P.

Predicted changes to the precipitation regime in many parts of the world include intensifying the distribution into lower frequency, large magnitude events. The corresponding alterations to the soil moisture regime may affect plant growth and soil respiration, particularly in peatlands, where large stores of organic carbon are due to gross ecosystem productivity (GEP) exceeding ecosystem respiration (ER). This study uses lab monoliths corroborated with field measurements to examine the effect of changing rainfall frequency on peatland moisture controls on inline-formulaCO2 uptake in an undisturbed cool temperate poor fen. Lab monoliths and field plots containing mosses, sedges, or shrubs received either 2.3, 1, or 0.5 precipitation events per week, with total rainfall held constant. Decreasing rain frequency led to lower near-surface volumetric moisture content (VMC), water table (WT), and soil tension for all vegetation types, with minimal effect on evapotranspiration. The presence of sedges in particular led to soil tensions of inline-formula≥100 cm of water for a sizeable duration (37 %) of the experiment. Altered rainfall frequencies affected GEP but had little effect on ER; overall, low-frequency rain led to a reduced net inline-formulaCO2 uptake for all three vegetation types. VMC had a strong control on GEP and net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of the Sphagnum capillifolium monoliths, and decreasing rainfall frequency influenced these relationships. Overall, communities dominated by mosses became net sources of inline-formulaCO2 after 3 days without rain, whereas sedge communities remained net sinks for up to 14 days without rain. The results of this study demonstrate the hydrological controls of peatland inline-formulaCO2 exchange dynamics influenced by changing precipitation frequency; furthermore, they suggest these predicted changes in frequency will lead to increased sedge GEP but limit the carbon-sink function of peatlands.



Radu, Danielle D. / Duval, Tim P.: Response of hydrology and CO2 flux to experimentally altered rainfall frequency in a temperate poor fen, southern Ontario, Canada. 2018. Copernicus Publications.


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