Blanket bog CO2 flux driven by plant functional type during summer drought

Henk Pieter Sterk, Chris Marshall, Neil R. Cowie, Ben Clutterbuck, Jason McIlvenny, Roxane Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Recent climate predictions for the United Kingdom expect a nationwide shift towards drier and warmer summers, increasing the risk of more frequent and severe drought events. Such shifts in weather patterns impede functioning of global peatlands, especially rare intact blanket bogs abundant in Scotland and representing nearly a quarter of the UK's soil carbon. In this in situ study, carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes from dominant peatland plant functional types (PFTs) such as Sphagnum spp., graminoids, ericoids and other key cover types (i.e., pools and bare peat) were measured and compared across upland and low-lying blanket bog margins and centres, immediately before and during a summer drought in 2018, and over the subsequent year. During that period, most sites acted as net sources of CO2 to the atmosphere. Our results showed that net ecosystem exchange (NEE) was limited by water availability during the drought, with ericoid shrubs showing the highest drought resilience, followed by graminoids (which were still limited in GPP in 2019) and Sphagnum mosses. Diverging NEE estimates were observed across centre and margin areas of the blanket bogs, with highest variability across the upland site where signs of active erosion were visible. Overall, our study suggests that estimating growing season carbon fluxes from in situ peatland PFT and cover types can help us better understand global climate change impacts on the dynamics and trajectories of peatland C cycles.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2503
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2022


  • carbon dioxide
  • ecosystem respiration
  • gross primary productivity
  • net ecosystem exchange
  • peatland


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