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Diverse fen plant communities enhance carbon-related multi functionality, but do not mitigate negative effects of drought

Diverse fen plant communities enhance carbon-related multi functionality, but do not mitigate negative effects of drought
Diverse fen plant communities enhance carbon-related multi functionality, but do not mitigate negative effects of drought
Global change, like droughts, can destabilize the carbon sink function of peatlands, either directly or indirectly through changes in plant community composition. While the effects of drought and plant community composition on individual carbon (C) related processes are well understood, their effect on multiple C-related processes simultaneously—multifunctionality—is poorly known. We studied the effect of drought on four C-related processes (net and gross CO2 exchange, methane fluxes, and dissolved organic carbon content) in a plant removal experiment. Plant functional type (PFT) removal (graminoids, herbs, Polytrichum spp., incl. combinations) negatively affected multifunctionality; most markedly when all PFTs were removed. Our results corroborate a negative drought effect on C-related multifunctionality. Drought reduced multifunctionality, and this reduction was again largest when all PFTs were removed. Our data further indicate that much of these negative drought effects were carried over and maintained from the initial removal treatment. These results suggest that while a high diversity in plant functional types is associated to high C-related multifunctionality, plant community assembly does not drive the ability of peatlands to withstand the negative impacts of drought on multifunctionality. Hence, to safeguard the carbon cycling function in intact peatlands, the effects of climate change on the functional composition of the peatland plant community needs to be minimized.
Carbon cycling, Ecosystem functions, Global change, Multiple functions, Plant functional types, Wetlands
Robroek, Bjorn J.M.
06dcb269-687c-41db-ab73-f61899617f92
Jassey, Vincent E.J.
17b9b576-bb3b-4739-830e-744034e5e24a
Beltman, Boudewijn
c9d575bc-a512-4799-b931-96a9f085054e
Hefting, Mariet M.
f50a0d85-1183-4b8b-b5af-cbe88103653e
Robroek, Bjorn J.M.
06dcb269-687c-41db-ab73-f61899617f92
Jassey, Vincent E.J.
17b9b576-bb3b-4739-830e-744034e5e24a
Beltman, Boudewijn
c9d575bc-a512-4799-b931-96a9f085054e
Hefting, Mariet M.
f50a0d85-1183-4b8b-b5af-cbe88103653e

Robroek, Bjorn J.M., Jassey, Vincent E.J., Beltman, Boudewijn and Hefting, Mariet M. (2017) Diverse fen plant communities enhance carbon-related multi functionality, but do not mitigate negative effects of drought. Royal Society Open Science, 4 (10), [170449]. (doi:10.1098/rsos.170449).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Global change, like droughts, can destabilize the carbon sink function of peatlands, either directly or indirectly through changes in plant community composition. While the effects of drought and plant community composition on individual carbon (C) related processes are well understood, their effect on multiple C-related processes simultaneously—multifunctionality—is poorly known. We studied the effect of drought on four C-related processes (net and gross CO2 exchange, methane fluxes, and dissolved organic carbon content) in a plant removal experiment. Plant functional type (PFT) removal (graminoids, herbs, Polytrichum spp., incl. combinations) negatively affected multifunctionality; most markedly when all PFTs were removed. Our results corroborate a negative drought effect on C-related multifunctionality. Drought reduced multifunctionality, and this reduction was again largest when all PFTs were removed. Our data further indicate that much of these negative drought effects were carried over and maintained from the initial removal treatment. These results suggest that while a high diversity in plant functional types is associated to high C-related multifunctionality, plant community assembly does not drive the ability of peatlands to withstand the negative impacts of drought on multifunctionality. Hence, to safeguard the carbon cycling function in intact peatlands, the effects of climate change on the functional composition of the peatland plant community needs to be minimized.

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Accepted/In Press date: 27 September 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 25 October 2017
Published date: October 2017
Additional Information: Data accessibility. Datasets are deposited at the Dryad Digital Repository (http://dx.doi.org/10.5061/dryad.g1pk3) [60]. Authors’ contributions. B.J.M.R. and M.M.H. designed the study; B.J.M.R. and B.B. collected the samples. B.J.M.R. and M.M.H. collected the data. B.J.M.R. and V.E.J.J. analysed and interpreted the data. B.J.M.R. and V.E.J.J. wrote the first draft of the manuscript, to which B.B. and M.M.H. contributed. All authors gave final approval for publication. Competing interests. We have no competing interests. Funding. Financial support for this work has come from the Dutch Foundation for the Conservation of Irish Bogs. Acknowledgements. We thank R. van Rossum for collectingmany of the flux data, and J. Kuiper for help during the set-up of the experiment. Eric Allan provided help with the R-codes on multifunctionality. Further, we are indebted to the input of two anonymous reviewers whose contributions improved the quality of our manuscript.
Keywords: Carbon cycling, Ecosystem functions, Global change, Multiple functions, Plant functional types, Wetlands

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 415189
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/415189
PURE UUID: 142386af-7aaf-4e74-ad9e-e1a65ade3274
ORCID for Bjorn J.M. Robroek: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6714-0652

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Date deposited: 02 Nov 2017 17:30
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 03:09

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Contributors

Author: Bjorn J.M. Robroek ORCID iD
Author: Vincent E.J. Jassey
Author: Boudewijn Beltman
Author: Mariet M. Hefting

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