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Water 2017, 9(7), 505; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9070505

Spatial Variations in the Surface Water Chemistry of Subtropical Peatlands (Central China) Linked to Anthropogenic Pressures

1
College of Resources and Environmental Science, South-Central University for Nationalities, Wuhan 430074, China
2
State Key Laboratory of Biogeology and Environmental Geology, School of Earth Sciences, China University of Geosciences, Wuhan 430074, China
3
Institute for Peat and Mire Research, State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Vegetation Restoration, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China
4
School of Geography, University of Nottingham, Nottingham NG72RD, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 17 February 2017 / Revised: 7 July 2017 / Accepted: 7 July 2017 / Published: 11 July 2017
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Abstract

Compared with the extensively surveyed temperate and boreal peatlands, subtropical peatlands have received rather little scientific attention. In this study, spatial variations in water chemistry were investigated in 57 samples collected from three subtropical peatlands (central China). Generally, water pH and major cation concentrations of these samples approached the characteristics of poor fens along the bog–rich fen gradient. Four distinct groups were identified by cluster analysis and principal component analysis. High concentrations of trace elements in Group I were probably linked to airborne dust pollutants from a nearby road under construction. Low pH values and low major cation concentrations in Group II may be attributed to the great cation exchange capacity of Sphagnum. In contrast, samples in Group III, mainly collected from sites suffering from Sphagnum harvest, showed high pH levels and major cation concentrations. Relatively low concentrations of trace elements (except boron) in Group IV can be regarded as reference conditions for restoration efforts in these peatlands. Taken together, spatial variations in the water chemistry of the three peatlands were closely linked to natural processes (e.g., cation exchange of Sphagnum) and anthropogenic pressures (e.g., Sphagnum harvest). Overall, the mean health risk values of the six trace elements were low, indicating good water quality in these peatlands. This study provided baseline water chemistry information for the sustainable management of these subtropical peatlands, as well as other similar ecosystems. View Full-Text
Keywords: subtropical peatlands; water chemistry; major cations; pH; trace elements subtropical peatlands; water chemistry; major cations; pH; trace elements
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Cao, Y.-M.; Chen, X.; Bu, Z.-J.; Zeng, L.-H. Spatial Variations in the Surface Water Chemistry of Subtropical Peatlands (Central China) Linked to Anthropogenic Pressures. Water 2017, 9, 505.

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