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Joint research project
Experimental site
Aim of the project
Innovative character


Title of the joint research project: Influence of global warming and drought on carbon sequestration and biodiversity of Sphagnum peatlands – present, past and future perspectives

In the proposed research we want to use Sphagnum peatlands (located in N Poland) as a model ecosystem and analyze its vulnerability to climate change applying an experimental setup that simulates in situ an increase of temperature and drought. The underlying idea is to determine to what extent climate warming in combination with drought can modify peatland functioning in a polish bog which fits in an oceanic-continental climate gradient with similar studies underway in other climate settings, such as in the Jura and in Russia. In particular we want to see how these climate changes can deteriorate the C sink function of peatland ecosystems. More precisely, the project aims at evaluating the effects on (1) the balance of C fluxes above- and belowground (especially via respired CO2), (2) the biodiversity and microbial activities on Sphagnum and in the peat, (3) the structure of plant communities and primary production, and (4) dynamics of labile and recalcitrant organic matter (OM) of the peat substrate. Simultaneously, the study of the most useful biological and geochemical compartments will lead to better identification and calibration of markers of temperature-drought-induced changes (e.g. testate amoebae community structure, isotopic composition of organic compounds). The patterns of the identified proxies will be used to reconstruct climate changes during the last 1000 years. It is still not clear how fast peatlands respond to changes in temperature and droughts in continental climate setting and indeed this is an important issue, since continental regions account for a significant proportion of all northern hemisphere peatlands.

Among the approaches to be used,
some are entirely new for this part of Europe:

Contrary to the former projects, in the experiment we will manipulate not only temperature but also drought. Therefore we will simulate long lasting heat waves.

The experimental heating system "Open-Top Chambers" based on a standardized ITEX protocol will be used for the first time in a Polish peatland ecosystems. This will enable comparison with other sites in Europe, in particular in the arctic, Jura Mountains and Siberia.

High-tech equipment is going to be used to constantly monitor climate and greenhouse gas emission. Linje site will become a reference point in this part of Europe for the monitoring of carbon budget in peatlands.

A novel aspect of our research is the combination of several complementary disciplines to obtain an optimal view of the complex ecosystem processes in relation to global change.

We refer to the existing research and we will benefit from the experience of already realized projects like PEATWARM, and we already know which topic should be stressed and where the difficulties are.

We will benefit not only from the foreign study sites but also from the one existing in N Poland (Rzecin mire) where carbon sequestration is currently monitored.

We will look at the past changes and relate it to the future perspective.

Our monitoring and experimental approach along a west-east transect will trigger new ideas and methods for interdisciplinary cooperation in peatland science.

We will apply the new approach in an area of Poland that will be a bridge between western and eastern study sites and therefore will fill a gap in the climatic gradient to be studied if one wants to have a better picture of the sensitivity of peatlands to climate change in Europe. We will connect different, complementary groups of scientists to obtain integrated research on the functioning of peatlands in temporal and spatial scales. An important aim is also to train young scientists and encouraging them to mobility and to international visibility.

Setting of the experimental site:


Joint research project
Experimental site

Aim of the project


Innovative character



Work Packages

Experimental setting and environmental monitoring
Vegetation monitoring, plant standing biomass, net primary production and total nutrient content in plants

Microbial biomass and microbial diversity

Soil enzymatic activities

Micrometeorology, carbon accumulation, soil respiration and litter decomposition

Microcosm experiment (Neuchâtel)

Drought palaeohydrology and carbon accumulation during the last 1000 years


Advisory board



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