Hydroclimatic influences on peatland CO2 exchange following upland forest harvesting on the boreal plains

J.M. Plach, R. M. Petrone, J.M. Waddington, Nicholas Kettridge, K. J. Devito

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A comparative study of forest clear-cut logging effects on daily growing season (May to October) net ecosystem CO2 exchange (NEE) of adjacent peatlands was conducted in two neighbouring forest upland-peatland complexes over four-years (2005 to 2008) on the Boreal Plains (BP) of Alberta, Canada. Higher vapour pressure deficit at the harvested-upland (H-U) peatland, reflecting increased turbulent mixing after adjacent upland forest removal (2007 and 2008), resulted in increased peatland evapotranspiration rates that contributed to a seasonal decline in soil moisture (VMC) influencing NEE. Overall, a significant change in mid-season NEE occurred at the H-U peatland one-year post-harvesting, greater than NEE changes at the neighboring intact-upland peatland. However, two years post-harvesting, mid-season NEE returned to within range of pre-harvesting variability (-0.54 to 1.34 g CO2-C m-2 d-1). Results of this study demonstrate that BP peatland NEE is largely regulated by site-specific water availability, which in turn, may be influenced in the short-term by shifting microclimate and soil moisture patterns due to clear-cut logging. As such, predicting long-term carbon storage function of BP peatlands will require careful consideration of changing hydroclimatic conditions due to rapid expansion of BP deforestation, given that these ecosystems already exist in a state of hydrologic risk in this moisture deficit eco-region. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date23 Jun 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 23 Jun 2016


  • NEE
  • CO2
  • Peatland
  • forest harvesting
  • boreal forest
  • soil moisture
  • microclimate


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