Vertical distribution of biological activity in peat of some virgin and drained swamp types
The objective of this project was to determine the amount of gas exchange in peat samples collected from several swamps, using the Warburg method in the laboratory measurements. Special attention was directed on the influence of the lowering of the ground water level through drainage, on oxidation-reduction conditions in the samples from both forested and treeless peatlands, by measuring oxygen uptake and CO2 release. The biological activity in situ was determined by the cellulose decomposition rate in the sample plots. The six areas examined were both in drained peatlands and peatlands in natural condition.
The results show that in the sample plots in open swamps there was no consistent differences in the CO2 release rate in peat samples taken from different depths. However, in the sample plots on forested swamps rapid decrease is seen with increasing depth. The decreased biological activity of peat is caused by the oxidation-reduction conditions. The CO2 release rate may also be due to the respiration of tree roots, which are very shallow in peatlands.
The rate of in situ cellulose decomposition experiment and CO2 release indicated by the Warburg measurements appear to be correlated. The results indicate improved conditions for cellulose-decomposing microbes after draining. It is also possible that the biological activity of peat after draining increases to a considerable depth until the decrease of easily decomposable substances limit the activity in an old drainage area. The cellulose decomposition rate would still increase as the oxidation-reduction conditions improve.
Published in 1966