Volcanic impacts on peatland microbial communities: A tephropalaeoecological hypothesis-test


Payne R (2012) Volcanic impacts on peatland microbial communities: A tephropalaeoecological hypothesis-test. Quaternary International, 268, pp. 98-110.

Volcanic eruptions affect peatlands around the world, depositing volcanic ash (tephra) and a variety of chemicals including compounds of sulphur. These volcanic impacts may be important for many reasons, in particular sulphur deposition has been shown to suppress peatland methane flux, potentially reinforcing climatic cooling. Experiments have shown that sulphur deposition also forces changes in testate amoeba communities, potentially relating to the reduced methane flux. Large volcanic eruptions in regions with extensive peatlands are relatively rare so it is difficult to assess the extent to which volcanic eruptions affect peatland microbial communities; palaeoecological analyses across tephra layers provide a means to resolve this uncertainty. In this study, testate amoebae were analysed across multiple monoliths from a peatland in southern Alaska containing two tephras, probably representing the 1883 eruption of Augustine Volcano and a 20th Century eruption of Redoubt Volcano. Results showed relatively distinct and often statistically significant changes in testate amoeba community coincident with tephra layers which largely matched the response found in experimental studies of sulphur deposition. The results suggest volcanic impacts on peatland microbial communities which might relate to changes in methane flux.

Mires; Wetlands; Tephra; Volcanoes; Protozoa; Carbon balance; Methane

Quaternary International: Volume 268

Publication date31/08/2012