Tropical peatland carbon storage linked to global latitudinal trends in peat recalcitrance.
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Peatlands represent large terrestrial carbon banks. Given that most peat accumulates in boreal regions, where low temperatures and water saturation preserve organic matter, the existence of peat in (sub)tropical regions remains enigmatic. Here we examined peat and plant chemistry across a latitudinal transect from the Arctic to the tropics. Near-surface low-latitude peat has lower carbohydrate and greater aromatic content than near-surface high-latitude peat, creating a reduced oxidation state and resulting recalcitrance. This recalcitrance allows peat to persist in the (sub)tropics despite warm temperatures. Because we observed similar declines in carbohydrate content with depth in high-latitude peat, our data explain recent field-scale deep peat warming experiments in which catotelm (deeper) peat remained stable despite temperature increases up to 9 °C. We suggest that high-latitude deep peat reservoirs may be stabilized in the face of climate change by their ultimately lower carbohydrate and higher aromatic composition, similar to tropical peats.
SubjectScience & Technology
Science & Technology - Other Topics
Published Version (Please cite this version)10.1038/s41467-018-06050-2
Publication InfoRichardson, Curtis; Wang, Hongjun; Hodgkins, Suzanne B; Dommain, René; Glaser, Paul H; Verbeke, Brittany; ... Chanton, Jeffrey P (2018). Tropical peatland carbon storage linked to global latitudinal trends in peat recalcitrance. Nature communications, 9(1). pp. 3640. 10.1038/s41467-018-06050-2. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/17645.
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John O. Blackburn Professor
Curtis J. Richardson is Professor of Resource Ecology and founding Director of the Duke University Wetland Center in the Nicholas School of the Environment. Dr. Richardson earned his degrees from the State University of New York and the University of Tennessee. His research interests in applied ecology focus on long-term ecosystem response to large-scale perturbations such as climate change, toxic materials, trace metals, flooding, or nutrient additions. He has specific interests in phosphor
Research Scientist, Senior
My research focuses on C,N,P biogeochemical cycles and the related ecological processes in wetlands, how these key elements dynamically respond to climate change, and how we can use the biogeochemical features to improve the ecological resilience and resistance to climate change and human disturbance, thus mitigating environmental challenges. I also expand my basic research in peatlands to degraded farms and put the resilient mechanism in practice to improve sustainable food, water and agri
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