Net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide (NEE) and evapotranspiration (ET) were measured at open and treed portions of a temperate ombrotrophic bog using the eddy covariance technique to examine the potential influence of plant community characteristics on peatland carbon and water vapour exchange. The sites were located 2.7km from each other within the same peatland complex and thus experienced similar weather. Both sites were characterized by a Sphagnum ground cover and a shrub layer with similar total biomass. However, at the treed bog, 35% of this understory vascular plant layer was made up of Picea mariana (<0.5m tall) compared to less than 0.2% in the open bog. The treed bog was also characterized by an overstory dominated by a patchy distribution of stunted P. mariana. Over a single year, net CO 2 uptake and ET was lower at the treed bog (NEE: -72gCm -2year -1 and ET: 449mmyear -1) than at the open bog (NEE: -104gCm -2year -1 and ET: 493mmyear -1). Chamber measurements revealed that P. mariana was associated with low rates of net primary productivity (NPP) compared to the relatively more productive ericaceous and deciduous shrubs. Although the presence of a P. mariana overstory increases both the total aboveground biomass and leaf area index in this peatland, P. mariana appears to be important in reducing both ecosystem-scale carbon sequestration and water vapour loss.

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Keywords Black spruce, Bog, Ericaceous shrubs, Evapotranspiration, Net ecosystem exchange, Net primary production
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Journal Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Strilesky, S.L. (Stacey L.), & Humphreys, E. (2012). A comparison of the net ecosystem exchange of carbon dioxide and evapotranspiration for treed and open portions of a temperate peatland. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 153, 45–53. doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2011.06.006