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Doctoral thesis, 2010

Boreal mire carbon exchange

Eriksson, Tobias


Boreal peatlands are important long-term sinks of atmospheric carbon and in the same time the largest natural source of methane to the atmosphere. A changing climate as well as deposition of anthropogenically derived pollutants, such as nitrogen and sulfur, has the potential to affect the processes that control the carbon exchange in peatlands. Many of the biogeochemical responses to changed environmental conditions, such as changed plant community composition, are slow and therefore long-term studies are required. In this thesis I have investigated the long-term effects of nitrogen addition, sulfur addition and greenhouse enclosures on carbon exchange by using a field manipulation experiment in a boreal minerogenic, oligotrophic mire after 10-12 years of treatment. Treatment effects on CH4 emissions, gross primary production (GPP), ecosystem respiration (Reco) and net ecosystem exchange (NEE) were estimated from 1-2 seasons of chamber flux measurements. Treatment effects on potential CH4 production and oxidation were estimated in incubations of peat from different depth intervals. The effect of nitrogen deposition on carbon accumulation was evaluated in peat cores at different depth intervals. The long-term nitrogen additions have: shifted plant community composition from being dominated by Sphagnum to being dominated by sedges and dwarf shrubs; changed mire surface microtopography so that mean water table is closer to the surface in plots with high nitrogen; increased CH4 production and emission; increased Reco slightly but have not affected GPP or NEE; reduced the peat height increment, but increased both peat bulk density and carbon content, leading to an unchanged carbon accumulation. The long-term sulfur additions have not reduced CH4 emissions, only slightly reduced CH4 production and did not have any effect on the CO2 carbon exchange. The greenhouse treatment, manifested in increased air and soil temperatures, reduced both CH4 emissions and CH4 production by approximately 30%, decreased Reco slightly, but had no effect on either GPP or NEE. Many of these results oppose to earlier findings, and this suggests that long-term field manipulations are important when evaluating effects with a long time constant.


peatlands; nitrogen; sulphur; temperature; climatic change; methane; carbon dioxide; carbon cycle; storage

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2010, number: 2010:62
ISBN: 9789157674753
Publisher: Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Eriksson, Tobias
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Ecology and Management

UKÄ Subject classification

Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use

URI (permanent link to this page)