Linking carbon and sulphur cycling during simulated drought cycles in peat from six sites across the UK
Clark, J. M., Heinemeyer, A., Martin, P. and Bottrell, S. (2008) Linking carbon and sulphur cycling during simulated drought cycles in peat from six sites across the UK. In: After Wise Use – The Future of Peatlands, Proceedings of the 13th International Peat Congress (Volume 1), 8-13 June 2008, Tullamore, Ireland, pp. 572-575.
Water table draw-down is thought to increase peat decomposition and, therefore, DOC release. However, several studies have shown lower DOC concentrations during droughts relative to ‘normal’ periods with high water table. We carried out controlled incubation experiments at 10°C on 10x10 cm peat soil cores collected from six UK sites across a sulphur deposition gradient. Our aim was to quantify the balance between microbial consumption and chemical precipitation of DOC due to episodic acidification driven by sulphur redox reactions by comparing changes in soil water chemistry to microbial activity (i.e. soil respiration and trace gas fluxes). During dry periods, all sites showed a concurrent increase in SO4 and soil respiration and a decline in DOC. However, the magnitude of change in both DOC and SO4 varied considerably between sites according to historical sulphur deposition loads and the variation in acid/base chemistry.