Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 15, issue 16
Biogeosciences, 15, 5189-5202, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 15, 5189-5202, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Aug 2018

Research article | 29 Aug 2018

Environmental and taxonomic controls of carbon and oxygen stable isotope composition in Sphagnum across broad climatic and geographic ranges

Gustaf Granath1, Håkan Rydin1, Jennifer L. Baltzer2, Fia Bengtsson1, Nicholas Boncek3, Luca Bragazza4,5,6, Zhao-Jun Bu7,8, Simon J. M. Caporn9, Ellen Dorrepaal10, Olga Galanina11,39, Mariusz Gałka12, Anna Ganeva13, David P. Gillikin14, Irina Goia15, Nadezhda Goncharova16, Michal Hájek17, Akira Haraguchi18, Lorna I. Harris19, Elyn Humphreys20, Martin Jiroušek17,21, Katarzyna Kajukało12, Edgar Karofeld22, Natalia G. Koronatova23, Natalia P. Kosykh23, Mariusz Lamentowicz12, Elena Lapshina24, Juul Limpens25, Maiju Linkosalmi26, Jin-Ze Ma7,8, Marguerite Mauritz27, Tariq M. Munir28,29, Susan M. Natali30, Rayna Natcheva13, Maria Noskova39,†, Richard J. Payne31,32, Kyle Pilkington3, Sean Robinson33, Bjorn J. M. Robroek34, Line Rochefort35, David Singer36,40, Hans K. Stenøien37, Eeva-Stiina Tuittila38, Kai Vellak22, Anouk Verheyden14, James Michael Waddington41, and Steven K. Rice3 Gustaf Granath et al.
  • 1Department Ecology and Genetics, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, Uppsala, Sweden
  • 2Biology Department, Wilfrid Laurier University, 75 University Ave. W., Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5, Canada
  • 3Department of Biological Sciences, Union College, Schenectady, NY, USA
  • 4Department of Life Science and Biotechnologies, University of Ferrara, Corso Ercole I d'Este 32, 44121 Ferrara, Italy
  • 5Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, WSL Site Lausanne, Station 2, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 6Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering ENAC, Laboratory of ecological systems ECOS, Station 2, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 7Institute for Peat and Mire Research, Northeast Normal University, State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Vegetation Restoration, 5268 Renmin St., Changchun 130024, China
  • 8Jilin Provincial Key Laboratory for Wetland Ecological Processes and Environmental Change in the Changbai Mountains, 5268 Renmin St., Changchun 130024, China
  • 9School of Science and the Environment, Division of Biology and Conservation Ecology, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M1 5GD, UK
  • 10Climate Impacts Research Centre, Dept. of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, 98107 Abisko, Sweden
  • 11Institute of Earth Sciences, St. Petersburg State University, Universitetskaya nab., 7–9, Russia, 199034, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 12Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Monitoring & Department of Biogeography and Paleoecology, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Bogumiła Krygowskiego 10, 61-680 Poznan, Polen
  • 13Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, 2 Yurii Gagarin Str., 1113 Sofia, Bulgaria
  • 14Department of Geology, Union College, Schenectady, NY, USA
  • 15Babeş-Bolyai University, Faculty of Biology and Geology, Department of Taxonomy and Ecology, 42 Republicii Street, 400015, Cluj Napoca, Romania
  • 16Institute of Biology of Komi Scientific Centre of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Syktyvkar, Russia
  • 17Department of Botany and Zoology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Kotlarska 2, 61137, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 18Department of Biology, The University of Kitakyushu, Kitakyushu 8080135, Japan
  • 19Department of Geography, McGill University, 805 Sherbrooke Street West, Montreal, QC H3A 0B9, Canada
  • 20Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
  • 21Department of Plant Biology, Faculty of AgriSciences, Mendel University in Brno, Zemedelska 1, 61300, Brno, Czech Republic
  • 22University of Tartu, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, Lai st 40, Tartu 51005, Estonia
  • 23Laboratory of Biogeocenology, Institute of Soil Science and Agrochemistry, Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences, Ak. Lavrent'ev ave., 8/2, Novosibirsk, 630090, Russia
  • 24Yugra State University, Chekhova str, 16, Khanty-Mansiysk, 628012, Russia
  • 25Plant Ecology and Nature conservation group, Wageningen University, Droevendaalse steeg 3a, 6708 PD Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 26Finnish Meteorological Institute, Erik Palménin aukio 1, 00560 Helsinki, Finland
  • 27Center for Ecosystem Science and Society (Ecoss), Department of Biological Sciences, Northern Arizona University, P.O. Box 5620, Flagstaff, AZ 86011, USA
  • 28Department of Geography, University of Calgary, 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada
  • 29Department of Geology, St. Mary's University, Calgary, AB T2X 1Z4, Canada
  • 30Woods Hole Research Center, 149 Woods Hole Road, Falmouth, MA 02540, USA
  • 31Environment, University of York, York YO105DD, UK
  • 32Penza State University, Krasnaya str., 40, 440026 Penza, Russia
  • 33Department of Biology, SUNY-Oneonta, Oneonta, NY, USA
  • 34Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK
  • 35Department of Plant Science and Center for Northern Studies, Laval University, Québec, QC, Canada
  • 36Laboratory of Soil Biodiversity, Institute of Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, 2000 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
  • 37NTNU University Museum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, 7491 Trondheim, Norway
  • 38Peatland and soil ecology group, School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, B.O. Box 111, 80110 Joensuu, Finland
  • 39Komarov Botanical Institute Russian Academy of Sciences, Professor Popov st. 2, 197376, St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 40Department of Zoology, Institute of Biosciences, University of São Paulo, 05508-090, São Paulo, Brazil
  • 41School of Geography and Earth Sciences, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4K1, Canada
  • deceased, 27 August 2017

Abstract. Rain-fed peatlands are dominated by peat mosses (Sphagnum sp.), which for their growth depend on nutrients, water and CO2 uptake from the atmosphere. As the isotopic composition of carbon (12,13C) and oxygen (16,18O) of these Sphagnum mosses are affected by environmental conditions, Sphagnum tissue accumulated in peat constitutes a potential long-term archive that can be used for climate reconstruction. However, there is inadequate understanding of how isotope values are influenced by environmental conditions, which restricts their current use as environmental and palaeoenvironmental indicators. Here we tested (i) to what extent C and O isotopic variation in living tissue of Sphagnum is species-specific and associated with local hydrological gradients, climatic gradients (evapotranspiration, temperature, precipitation) and elevation; (ii) whether the C isotopic signature can be a proxy for net primary productivity (NPP) of Sphagnum; and (iii) to what extent Sphagnum tissue δ18O tracks the δ18O isotope signature of precipitation. In total, we analysed 337 samples from 93 sites across North America and Eurasia using two important peat-forming Sphagnum species (S. magellanicum, S. fuscum) common to the Holarctic realm. There were differences in δ13C values between species. For S. magellanicum δ13C decreased with increasing height above the water table (HWT, R2 = 17%) and was positively correlated to productivity (R2 = 7%). Together these two variables explained 46% of the between-site variation in δ13C values. For S. fuscum, productivity was the only significant predictor of δ13C but had low explanatory power (total R2 = 6%). For δ18O values, approximately 90% of the variation was found between sites. Globally modelled annual δ18O values in precipitation explained 69% of the between-site variation in tissue δ18O. S. magellanicum showed lower δ18O enrichment than S. fuscum (−0.83‰ lower). Elevation and climatic variables were weak predictors of tissue δ18O values after controlling for δ18O values of the precipitation. To summarize, our study provides evidence for (a) good predictability of tissue δ18O values from modelled annual δ18O values in precipitation, and (b) the possibility of relating tissue δ13C values to HWT and NPP, but this appears to be species-dependent. These results suggest that isotope composition can be used on a large scale for climatic reconstructions but that such models should be species-specific.

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
Peat constitutes a long-term archive for climate reconstruction by using the isotopic composition of carbon and oxygen. We analysed isotopes in two peat moss species across North America and Eurasia. Peat (moss tissue) isotope composition was predicted by soil moisture and isotopic composition of the rainwater but differed between species. Our results suggest that isotope composition can be used on a large scale for climatic reconstructions but that such models should be species-specific.
Peat constitutes a long-term archive for climate reconstruction by using the isotopic...