Canadian Forest Service Publications

Carbon stock trends along forested peatland margins in central Saskatchewan. 2006. Bhatti, J.S.; Errington, R.C.; Bauer, I.E.; Hurdle, P.A. Canadian Journal of Soil Science (Special Issue) 86(2): 321-333.

Year: 2006

Issued by: Northern Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26105

Language: English

Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (download)

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Forested peatlands store significant amounts of soil carbon (C) compared with upland forests and are strongly influenced by climatic parameters. Carbon stocks at peatland margins, although likely to be most sensitive to changes in climate, have not been well quantified, making it difficult to predict their response to climate change. The purpose of this study was to characterize the physical environment and associated changes in C stocks across the forested margins of two boreal fens. Peat depth increased and water table depth decreased toward the peatland centre, and these parameters acted as the controlling environmental variables. Above-ground biomass C was primarily derived from tree biomass and decreased from upland to peatland, despite an opposite trend in understorey (herbaceous and shrubby) biomass stocks. Leaf area index was related to peat depth through a negative power function and increased linearly with above-ground tree biomass. Total ecosystem C increased from upland to peatland, with minimum and maximum values of 270 and 2100 Mg C ha–1, respectively, and was largely dominated by soil C stocks, even at the upland end of the gradient. Although numerous small trees toward the peatland interior might allow a rapid increase in tree biomass C with lowering water tables, it seems likely that this would be a limited response, overshadowed in the long term by declines in the more substantial soil C stocks.