Subarctic peatlands have the ability to sequester carbon, which is undermined by the warming temperatures of climate change. Recent evidence suggests that the eminent rising temperatures will, through indirect effects, cause greater losses of carbon each year. These peatlands primarily release carbon through carbon dioxide, which is carried out by the microbial community. To understand why these microbes respire more during warming we must begin to pick apart this system’s carbon cycle. The first responder to changes in soil environment is the most sensitive pool of carbon, the water extractable organic carbon pool which contains low molecular weight carbon compounds (LMWCC) from plant inputs. In this experiment we provided peat with 5 different LMWCC at varying concentrations while maintaining field moisture. Throughout the 60 day incubation experiment carbon dioxide was measured after 24 hours of accumulation. Final sampling will be in March, however, preliminary results provide insights into the effectiveness of these untested methods. For example, oxalate concentrations reached a threshold after which respiration was suppressed, but citrate concentrations did not affect respiration. So far, this experiment is successful in that it has allowed us to refine our methods, and given us knowledge about untested LMWCC.
Kelsey King, ’15
Additional Authors: A.D. Keiser, and K. Hofmockel
Sponsor: Craig Teague