Tropical peat decomposability expressed through physical, chemical and biological properties under varying land management intensities
Reference: Dissertationes Forestales 237, PhD Thesis, University of Helsinki
Authors: Könönen, M.
Abstract: The peatlands in Southeast Asia have been impacted and turned to vast carbon dioxide sources (CO2) by land management often involving drainage and deforestation. The amount of released CO2 in decomposition is related to management intensity likely resulting from altered conditions for decomposition. However, the link between decomposition processes and land-use change are poorly understood.
To provide insight to the effects of land-use change intensities to decomposition processes in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, we examined physical (dry bulk density, total pore space, particle size) and chemical properties (pH, loss-on-ignition; total concentrations of N, P, K, C, Ca, Mg, Mn, Zn, Al, Fe, S, Si, DOC and DON; organic matter quality characterized by infrared spectroscopy and on compound level), which together were used to determine the decomposition stage and decomposability (i.e., substrate quality) of peat. The peat biological properties (microbial biomass and enzyme activity) were used to provide insight to the decomposition activity at various land-use types and as a response to known peat properties. The study sites were: near-pristine swamp (i) and drained (ii) forest, deforested and drained degraded (iii), agricultural (iv) and reforested (v) sites.
At the most intensively altered deforested sites the peat was denser, finer and enriched with recalcitrant compounds. The highest enzyme activity and microbial biomass were in the surface peat of swamp forest, where the amount of labile carbohydrates was highest. The six years ago reforested site did not yet show signs of recovery in peat properties, which was likely due the limited litter production capacity of the young plantation and microbial activity limited by chemical weeding. The main conclusion is that the litter input, or rather the lack of it after land-use change, and intensive management practices forms the main factors affecting to decomposition processes and leading to poorer substrate quality and reduced biological activity.
Key words: carbon compound composition; decomposability; decomposition stage; enzyme activity; physical and chemical properties; tropical peat
Link 1: https://doi.org/10.14214/df.237