Stable isotopes (d(13)C, d(15)N) and biomarkers as indicators of the hydrological regime of fens in a European east-west transect

Groß-Schmölders, Miriam and Klein, Jennifer Kristin and Emsens, Willem-Jan and van Diggelen, Rudy and Aggenbach, Camiel J. S. and Liczner, Yvonne and Frouz, Jan and Leifeld, Jens and Alewell, Christine. (2022) Stable isotopes (d(13)C, d(15)N) and biomarkers as indicators of the hydrological regime of fens in a European east-west transect. Science of the Total Environment, 838 (4). p. 156603.

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Official URL: https://edoc.unibas.ch/93021/

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Peatland degradation is tightly connected to hydrological changes and microbial metabolism. To better understand these metabolism processes, more information is needed on how microbial communities and substrate cycling are affected by changing hydrological regimes. These activities should be imprinted in stable isotope bulk values (delta N-15, delta C-13) due to specific isotopic fractionation by different microbial communities, their metabolic pathways and nutrient sources. We hypothesize that stable isotope values and microbial abundance are correlated and act as indicators of dif-ferent hydrological regimes. We sampled an East-West transect across European fens in 14 areas and conducted a stable isotope (delta C-13, delta N-15) and membrane fatty acid (mFA) analysis. Within each area an undrained, drained and rewetted site was selected. Rewetted sites were separated based on when rewetting occurred. We found differences in the upper layers of all sites in microbial-derived mFAs and stable isotope values corresponding to hydrological re-gimes. The highest and lowest quantities of microbial-derived mFAs were measured in undrained and drained sites, respectively. Fungal-derived mFAs were especially lower in drained sites. Simultaneously, delta N-15 stable isotope values were highest in drained sites. In addition, stable isotope values and microbial-derived mFAs showed distinct depth trends. In undrained sites stable isotopes values slightly increased with depth. In drained sites, delta N-15 values decreased downwards, whereas delta C-13 values increased. Overall microbial-derived mFAs decreased with depth. These patterns presumably result from anoxic conditions and high peat recalcitrance in the deeper layers. In sites with short time of rewetting, the microbial-derived mFAs and stable isotope values were similar to values of drained sites, while with increasing rewetting time values shifted to those of undrained sites. We conclude that biomarkers indicate that stable isotope values reflect specific microbial metabolic processes, which differ with hydrological regimes, and thus could indicate both drainage and rewetting in fens.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Umweltgeowissenschaften (Alewell)
UniBasel Contributors:Alewell, Christine and Gross-Schmölders, Miriam and Leifeld, Jens and Klein, Jennifer Kristin
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:02 Feb 2023 09:58
Deposited On:02 Feb 2023 09:58

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