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Drainage and fertilization effects on nutrient availability in an ombrotrophic peatland

Wang, M. J. Talbot and T. R. Moore. 2017. Science of The Total Environment

Abstract

Nutrient availability is an important control on the vegetation distribution, productivity and functioning of peatland ecosystems and we examined spatial and temporal patterns of nutrient availability through ion exchange at Mer Bleue bog, southeast Ontario, Canada. We installed ion exchange probes at 5 -15cm for 4 weeks and determined nutrient sorption at undisturbed sites as well as those affected by nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K) fertilization and drainage. Under undisturbed conditions, the bog had very small amount of available nutrients, especially N (ammonium>nitrate) and P, and exhibited small variations in nutrient availability during the growing season (May to October). The increase in NPK availability upon fertilization was short-lived over the season and the stoichiometry of available NPK captured by the probes was mismatched with the vegetation. The increase in nutrient availability with drainage was confounded by substantial changes in vegetation. We compare these results with data from other Canadian bogs and fens to provide baseline data on nutrient availability in peatlands.

Key Words

Bog Fen; Ion exchange; Disturbance; Seasonality; Stoichiometry