Though peatlands make up only 3 percent of the Earth’s surface, they store one-third of the soil carbon trapped in soils globally. Preserving peatlands is subsequently of paramount significance for mitigating climate change, supplied that these susceptible environments are usually not themselves threatened by global warming.
To better decide this threat, two French scientists, together with Vincent Jassey, a CNRS researcher at the Laboratoire Ecologie Fontionnelle et Environnement (CNRS/Université Toulouse III—Paul Sabatier/INP Toulouse), studied carbon uptake by the two main species of moss that make up the Le Forbonnet peatland in Frasne (Jura). They found that when temperatures have been high and also throughout droughts, the two Sphagnum species behaved in opposite ways: Sphagnum medium resists drought, whereas the photosynthesis of Sphagnum fallax is negatively impacted; conversely, in very hot however humid climate, photosynthesis, and thus carbon uptake, in Sphagnum fallax will increase, whereas there’s a negligible impact on photosynthesis in Sphagnum medium. In both cases, then, the peatland survives.
These outcomes present that peatlands can withstand future climate change, supplied they are not disturbed. Making peatland conservation precedence would subsequently assist in restricting the impacts of climate change in the future. The research was printed on September 9, 2019, in Global Change Biology.