Special Issue "Understanding the Ecology of Restored Fen Peatlands for Protection and Sustainable Use"

A special issue of Soil Systems (ISSN 2571-8789).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (6 January 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Nicole Wrage-Mönnig
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Grassland and Fodder Sciences, Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Universität Rostock, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 6, 18051 Rostock, Germany
Interests: microbial sources of N2O; cycling of N and P; grassland ecology; stable isotopes
Prof. Dr. Peter Leinweber
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Soil Science, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Universität Rostock, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 6, 18051 Rostock, Germany
Interests: soil organic matter; phosphorus; nutrient cycling; soil amendments; contamination; remediation; biological soil crusts

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The WETSCAPES Conference (https://www.wetscapes.de/conference/) will be held in Rostock, Germany, 10–13 September 2019. Authors of soil-related papers presented at the Conference are invited to submit extended versions of their work to the Special Issue for publication.

Peatlands are the most effective terrestrial carbon stock on our planet. However, many peatlands have been artificially drained for agricultural and forestry purposes, or peat extraction. Drainage leads to decomposition of the peat, soil compaction, and, thus, peatland subsidence. Further, artificially drained peatlands cause disproportionally high greenhouse gas emissions.

Rewetting peatlands may solve many of the problems related to artificial drainage but is rarely an option because of loss of agricultural land. New management strategies in which the rewetting of the peatland is combined with an agricultural usage, the so-called 'paludiculture', might be an alternative in sustainable landscape planning. A mosaic of paludiculturally used peatlands with peatlands restored primarily for nature conservation purposes is the future of multifunctional and sustainable peatland landscapes and the vision of 'WETSCAPES'.

As we are just at the beginning of implementing paludicultures, understanding of the biogeochemistry and ecology of these novel ecosystems is still largely lacking. This Special Issue, based on presentations given at the WETSCAPES Conference, aims to contribute to a better understanding of the ecosystem functioning and the underlying processes. This understanding is the basis for a sustainable use of wet landscapes.

Prof. Dr. Nicole Wrage-Mönnig
Prof. Dr. Peter Leinweber
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Soil Systems is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Greenhouse gas exchange 
  • Element cycling and export
  • Peatland bio-hydrology
  • Plant growth and decomposition
  • Microbial pathways
  • Remote sensing

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Understanding the Ecology of Restored Fen Peatlands for Protection and Sustainable Use
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(2), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4020024 - 21 Apr 2020
Viewed by 855
Abstract
Natural peatlands are the most effective terrestrial carbon stock on our planet [...] Full article

Research

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Article
Methane and Nitrous Oxide Emission Fluxes Along Water Level Gradients in Littoral Zones of Constructed Surface Water Bodies in a Rewetted Extracted Peatland in Sweden
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4010017 - 24 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1235
Abstract
Rewetted extracted peatlands are sensitive ecosystems and they can act as greenhouse gas (GHG) sinks or sources due to changes in hydrology, vegetation, and weather conditions. However, studies on GHG emissions from extracted peatlands after rewetting are limited. Methane (CH4) and [...] Read more.
Rewetted extracted peatlands are sensitive ecosystems and they can act as greenhouse gas (GHG) sinks or sources due to changes in hydrology, vegetation, and weather conditions. However, studies on GHG emissions from extracted peatlands after rewetting are limited. Methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) emission fluxes were determined using the opaque closed chamber method along water level gradients from littoral zones to the open water body of constructed shallow lakes with different vegetation zones in a nutrient-rich rewetted extracted peatland in Sweden. Vegetation communities and their position relative to water level, together with short-term water level fluctuations, such as inundation events and seasonal droughts, and temperature had a significant impact on CH4 emissions fluxes. During “normal” and “dry” conditions and high soil temperatures, CH4 emissions were highest from Carex spp.-Typha latifolia L. communities. During inundation events with water levels > 30 cm, sites with flooded Graminoids-Scirpus spp.-Carex spp. emitted most CH4. Methane emissions from the water body of the constructed shallow lakes were low during all water level conditions and over the temperature ranges observed. Nitrous oxide emissions contributed little to the emission fluxes from the soil-plant-water systems to the atmosphere, and they were only detectable from the sites with Graminoids. In terms of management, the construction of shallow lakes showed great potential for lowering GHG emission fluxes from nutrient rich peatlands after peat extraction, even though the vegetated shore emitted some N2O and CH4. Full article
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Article
Mass Balances of a Drained and a Rewetted Peatland: on Former Losses and Recent Gains
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4010016 - 16 Mar 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1371
Abstract
Drained peatlands are important sources of greenhouse gases and are rewetted to curb these emissions. We study one drained and one rewetted fen in terms of losses—and, after rewetting—gains of organic matter (OM), carbon (C), and peat thickness. We determined bulk density (BD) [...] Read more.
Drained peatlands are important sources of greenhouse gases and are rewetted to curb these emissions. We study one drained and one rewetted fen in terms of losses—and, after rewetting—gains of organic matter (OM), carbon (C), and peat thickness. We determined bulk density (BD) and ash/OM (and C/OM) ratios for 0.5 cm thick contiguous slices from peat monoliths to calculate losses. Whereas one site has lost 28.5 kg OM m−2 corresponding to annual emissions of ~10 t CO2 ha−1 a−1 over 50 years of effective drainage, the other site has lost 102 kg OM m−2, corresponding to an annual loss of ~30 t CO2 ha−1 a−1 for 30 years of intensive drainage and 6 t CO2 ha−1 a−1 during ~225 years of weak drainage before that. Height losses ranged from 43 to 162 cm. In the 20 years after rewetting, 2.12 kg C m−2 was accumulated, equaling an average annual uptake of ~0.4 kg CO2 m−2 a−1. The results indicate that rewetting can lead to carbon accumulation in fens. This sink function is only small compared with the high emissions that are avoided through rewetting. Full article
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Article
From Understanding to Sustainable Use of Peatlands: The WETSCAPES Approach
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4010014 - 11 Mar 2020
Cited by 18 | Viewed by 2352
Abstract
Of all terrestrial ecosystems, peatlands store carbon most effectively in long-term scales of millennia. However, many peatlands have been drained for peat extraction or agricultural use. This converts peatlands from sinks to sources of carbon, causing approx. 5% of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect [...] Read more.
Of all terrestrial ecosystems, peatlands store carbon most effectively in long-term scales of millennia. However, many peatlands have been drained for peat extraction or agricultural use. This converts peatlands from sinks to sources of carbon, causing approx. 5% of the anthropogenic greenhouse effect and additional negative effects on other ecosystem services. Rewetting peatlands can mitigate climate change and may be combined with management in the form of paludiculture. Rewetted peatlands, however, do not equal their pristine ancestors and their ecological functioning is not understood. This holds true especially for groundwater-fed fens. Their functioning results from manifold interactions and can only be understood following an integrative approach of many relevant fields of science, which we merge in the interdisciplinary project WETSCAPES. Here, we address interactions among water transport and chemistry, primary production, peat formation, matter transformation and transport, microbial community, and greenhouse gas exchange using state of the art methods. We record data on six study sites spread across three common fen types (Alder forest, percolation fen, and coastal fen), each in drained and rewetted states. First results revealed that indicators reflecting more long-term effects like vegetation and soil chemistry showed a stronger differentiation between drained and rewetted states than variables with a more immediate reaction to environmental change, like greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Variations in microbial community composition explained differences in soil chemical data as well as vegetation composition and GHG exchange. We show the importance of developing an integrative understanding of managed fen peatlands and their ecosystem functioning. Full article
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Article
Digital, Three-Dimensional Visualization of Root Systems in Peat
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4010013 - 29 Feb 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1462
Abstract
Belowground plant structures are inherently difficult to observe in the field. Sedge peat that mainly consists of partly decayed roots and rhizomes offers a particularly challenging soil matrix to study (live) plant roots. To obtain information on belowground plant morphology, research commonly relies [...] Read more.
Belowground plant structures are inherently difficult to observe in the field. Sedge peat that mainly consists of partly decayed roots and rhizomes offers a particularly challenging soil matrix to study (live) plant roots. To obtain information on belowground plant morphology, research commonly relies on rhizotrons, excavations, or computerized tomography scans (CT). However, all of these methods have certain limitations. For example, CT scans of peat cores cannot sharply distinguish between plant material and water, and rhizotrons do not provide a 3D structure of the root system. Here, we developed a low-cost approach for 3D visualization of the root system in peat monoliths. Two large diameter (20 cm) peat cores were extracted, frozen and two smaller peat monoliths (47 × 6.5 × 13 cm) were taken from each core. Slices of 0.5 mm or 1 mm were cut from one of the frozen monoliths, respectively, using a paper block cutter and the freshly cut surface of the monolith was photographed after each cut. A 3D model of the fresh (live) roots and rhizomes was reconstructed from the resulting images of the thinner slices based on computerized image analysis, including preprocessing, filtering, segmentation and 3D visualization using the open-source software Fiji, Drishti, and Ilastik. Digital volume measurements on the models produced similar data as manual washing out of roots from the adjacent peat monoliths. The constructed 3D models provide valuable insight into the three-dimensional structure of the root system in the peat matrix. Full article
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Article
Roots, Tissues, Cells and Fragments—How to Characterize Peat from Drained and Rewetted Fens
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4010012 - 28 Feb 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1129
Abstract
We present analyses of macroscopic and microscopic remains as a tool to characterise sedge fen peats. We use it to describe peat composition and stages of peat decomposition, to assess the success of rewetting of a formerly drained fen, and to understand the [...] Read more.
We present analyses of macroscopic and microscopic remains as a tool to characterise sedge fen peats. We use it to describe peat composition and stages of peat decomposition, to assess the success of rewetting of a formerly drained fen, and to understand the workings of these novel ecosystems. We studied two percolation fen sites, one drained and one drained and rewetted 20 years ago. Years of deep drainage have resulted in a layer of strongly decomposed peat which lacks recognizable macro-remains. We could associate micro-remains with macro-remains, and thus still characterise the peat and the plants that once formed it. We show that the strongly decomposed peat is of the same origin as the slightly decomposed peat below, and that is was ploughed. We present descriptions of eight types of the main constituent of sedge peat: plant roots, including Carex rostrata type, C. lasiocarpa/rostrata type, C. limosa type, C. acutiformis type, C. echinata type, Phragmites australis type, Cladium type, Equisetum type. We describe three new non-pollen palynomorph types (microscopic remains) and five new subtypes. The rewetted fen provides insights into plant succession after rewetting and the formation of peat that predominantly consists of roots. Results indicate that leaf sheaths may be a consistent component of the peat. Full article
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Article
Phosphorus Speciation in Long-Term Drained and Rewetted Peatlands of Northern Germany
Soil Syst. 2020, 4(1), 11; https://doi.org/10.3390/soilsystems4010011 - 10 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1231
Abstract
Previous studies, conducted at the inception of rewetting degraded peatlands, reported that rewetting increased phosphorus (P) mobilization but long-term effects of rewetting on the soil P status are unknown. The objectives of this study were to (i) characterize P in the surface and [...] Read more.
Previous studies, conducted at the inception of rewetting degraded peatlands, reported that rewetting increased phosphorus (P) mobilization but long-term effects of rewetting on the soil P status are unknown. The objectives of this study were to (i) characterize P in the surface and subsurface horizons of long-term drained and rewetted percolation mires, forest, and coastal peatlands and (ii) examine the influence of drainage and rewetting on P speciation and distributions using wet-chemical and advanced spectroscopic analyses. The total P was significantly (p < 0.05) different at the surface horizons. The total concentration of P ranged from 1022 to 2320 mg kg−1 in the surface horizons and decreased by a factor of two to five to the deepest horizons. Results of the chemical, solution 31P nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR), and P K-edge X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) indicated that the major proportions of total P were organic P (Po). In the same peatland types, the relative proportions of Po and stable P fractions were lower in the drained than in the rewetted peatland. The results indicate that long-term rewetting not only locks P in organic matter but also transforms labile P to stable P fractions at the surface horizons of the different peatland types. Full article
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