Small scale controls of greenhouse gas release under elevated N deposition rates in a restoring peat bog in NW Germany
Abstract. In Central Europe, most bogs have a history of drainage and many of them are currently being restored. Success of restoration as well as greenhouse gas exchange of these bogs is influenced by environmental stress factors as drought and atmospheric nitrogen deposition. We determined the methane and nitrous oxide exchange of sites in the strongly decomposed center and less decomposed edge of the Pietzmoor bog in NW Germany in 2004. Also, we examined the methane and nitrous oxide exchange of mesocosms from the center and edge before, during, and following a drainage experiment as well as carbon dioxide release from disturbed unfertilized and nitrogen fertilized surface peat. In the field, methane fluxes ranged from 0 to 3.8 mg m−2 h−1 and were highest from hollows. Field nitrous oxide fluxes ranged from 0 to 574 μg m−2 h−1 and were elevated at the edge. A large Eriophorum vaginatum tussock showed decreasing nitrous oxide release as the season progressed. Drainage of mesocosms decreased methane release to 0, even during rewetting. There was a tendency for a decrease of nitrous oxide release during drainage and for an increase in nitrous oxide release during rewetting. Nitrogen fertilization did not increase decomposition of surface peat. Our examinations suggest a competition between vascular vegetation and denitrifiers for excess nitrogen. We also provide evidence that the von Post humification index can be used to explain nitrous oxide release from bogs, if the role of vascular vegetation is also considered. An assessment of the greenhouse gas release from nitrogen saturated restoring bogs needs to take into account elevated release from fresh Sphagnum peat as well as from sedges growing on decomposed peat. Given the high atmospheric nitrogen deposition, restoration will not be able to achieve an oligotrophic ecosystem in the short term.