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Long-term carbon accumulation in two tropical mountain peatlands, Andes Mountains, Ecuador

Author(s): R.A. Chimner | J.M. Karberg

Journal: Mires and Peat
ISSN 1819-754X

Volume: 3;
Issue: 04;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Cayambre-Coca | Cotopaxi | fen | LARCA | South America | volcanoes

Tropical peatlands form in at least two distinct altitudinal zones, namely lowlands and high mountains. Unlike lowland tropical peatlands, which are typically forested, tropical mountain peatlands are dominated by cushion plants, bryophytes and herbaceous plants. Tropical mountain peatlands are poorly understood and little information is available on their ages, whether their peat bodies are relicts or actively accumulating carbon, the amount of carbon they contain, or the rate at which they can accumulate carbon. Our objective in this paper is to quantify carbon accumulation rates in two peatlands in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, South America. At each site, we collected peat cores which were analysed for bulk density, mineral content and % C and we calculated the amount of carbon stored. Due to the high amount of mineral sediment in the Cotopaxi peatland, carbon dating was not done at this site. The Cayambre-Coca peat body was 4 m thick, ca. 3,000 years old, and had accumulated 140 kgC m-2. The approximate long-term rate of carbon accumulation (LARCA) is 46 gC m-2 yr-1. However, a significant part of the depth of accumulation is due to high levels of mineral sediment input from steep side slopes and volcanic ash input.
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