- Characteristics of dissolved organic matter following 20 years of peatland restoration
- Science of the Total Environment
- Volume | Issue number
- 408 | 1
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
The changes in the amounts and composition of dissolved organic matter (DOM) following long-term peat restoration are unknown, although this fraction of soil organic matter affects many processes in such ecosystems. We addressed this lack of knowledge by investigating a peatland in south-west Germany that was partly rewetted 20 years ago. A successfully restored site and a moderately drained site were compared, where the mean groundwater levels were close to the soil surface and around 30 cm below surface, respectively. The concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) at 4 depths were measured over one year. The specific absorbance was measured at 280 nm and the fluorescence spectra were used to describe the aromaticity and complexity of DOM.
The investigations showed that 20 years of peatland restoration was able to create typical peatland conditions. The rewetted site had significantly lower DOC concentrations at different depths compared to the drained site. The specific UV absorbance showed that the rewetted site had a lower level of aromatic DOM structures. The decreasing specific UV absorbance might indicate an increasing contribution of small organic molecules to DOM. It was hypothesized that the decreasing DOC concentrations and the relative enrichment of small, readily degradable organic molecules, reflect the slower decomposition of organic matter after the re-establishment of the water table. Seasonal trends provided substantial evidence for our hypothesis that reduced DOC concentrations were caused by reduced peat decomposition. During summer, the elevated DOC values were accompanied by an increase in DOM aromaticity and complexity. Our results demonstrated a close link between C mineralization and DOC production. We concluded that long-term peatland restoration in the form of the successful re-establishment of the water table might result in reduced peat decomposition and lower DOC concentrations. The restoration of peatlands seems to have a positive impact on C sequestration.
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