From understanding to sustainable use of peatlands: The WETSCAPES approach

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  • Gerald Jurasinski, University of Rostock
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  • Sate Ahmad, University of Rostock
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  • Alba Anadon-Rosell, University of Greifswald
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  • Jacqueline Berendt, University of Rostock
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  • Florian Beyer, University of Rostock
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  • Ralf Bill, University of Rostock
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  • Gesche Blume-Werry, University of Greifswald
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  • John Couwenberg, University of Greifswald
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  • Anke Günther, University of Rostock
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  • Hans Joosten, University of Greifswald
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  • Franziska Koebsch, University of Rostock
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  • Daniel Köhn, University of Rostock
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  • Nils Koldrack, University of Rostock
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  • Jürgen Kreyling, University of Greifswald
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  • Peter Leinweber, University of Rostock
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  • Bernd Lennartz, University of Rostock
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  • Haojie Liu, University of Rostock
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  • Dierk Michaelis, University of Greifswald
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  • Almut Mrotzek, University of Greifswald
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  • Wakene Negassa, University of Rostock
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  • Sandra Schenk, University of Rostock
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  • Franziska Schmacka, University of Rostock
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  • Sarah Schwieger, University of Greifswald
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  • Marko Smiljanić, University of Greifswald
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  • Franziska Tanneberger, University of Greifswald
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  • Laurenz Teuber, University of Greifswald
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  • Tim Urich, University of Greifswald
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  • Haitao Wang, University of Greifswald
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  • Micha Weil, University of Greifswald
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  • Martin Wilmking, University of Greifswald
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  • Dominik Zak
  • Nicole Wrage-Mönnig, University of Rostock

Of all terrestrial ecosystems, peatlands store carbon most effectively in long-term scales of millennia. However, many peatlands have been drained for peat extraction or agricultural use. This converts peatlands from sinks to sources of carbon, causing approx. 5% of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect and additional negative effects on other ecosystem services. Rewetting peatlands can mitigate climate change and may be combined with management in the form of paludiculture. Rewetted peatlands, however, do not equal their pristine ancestors and their ecological functioning is not understood. This holds true especially for groundwater-fed fens. Their functioning results from manifold interactions and can only be understood following an integrative approach of many relevant fields of science, which we merge in the interdisciplinary project WETSCAPES. Here, we address interactions among water transport and chemistry, primary production, peat formation, matter transformation and transport, microbial community, and greenhouse gas exchange using state of the art methods. We record data on six study sites spread across three common fen types (Alder forest, percolation fen, and coastal fen), each in drained and rewetted states. First results revealed that indicators reflecting more long-term effects like vegetation and soil chemistry showed a stronger differentiation between drained and rewetted states than variables with a more immediate reaction to environmental change, like greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Variations in microbial community composition explained differences in soil chemical data as well as vegetation composition and GHG exchange. We show the importance of developing an integrative understanding of managed fen peatlands and their ecosystem functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalSoil systems
Volume4
Issue1
Number of pages27
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

    Research areas

  • Drainage, Fen, Interdisciplinary, Matter fluxes, Paludiculture, Rewetting

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