Amazon peatlands: C and N stocks and cycling

Distribution of major interfluvial Wetland formations and documented peatlands in the Amazon Basin.

The Amazon basin contains the largest wetlands system,~1,000,000 km2 , releasing greenhouse gases (GHG) such as methane (CH4) in the order of 1.73 to 21 Tg CH4 y-1. Peatlands in the tropics were previously thought to be limited to south Asia and not in the Amazon rainforest. The misconception that conditions in the Amazon are not conductive to high OC accumulation has been put to rest by the recent discovery of over 295 peatland formations reaching depths of up to nine meters of OC in the Pastaza-Marañon region of the Peruvian Amazon.

Fieldwork measuring total carbon content has shown a major unreported OC repository (3-6 Gt). We have recently recorded levels of GHG’s emissions (CH4, N2O, CH4), environmental variables and microbial composition finding strong variability within and among Amazon peatlands.

In this research we study a set of sites ecologically variable yet representative of the peatland types in the region. Evaluations of C stocks, primary productivity rates, GHG fluxes, responses to water table manipulation, and microbial activity are considered by our projects primary testing hypothesis on the ecological drivers and sensitivity C and N stocks and GHG fluxes to environmental change. The functional connections between plant composition and dynamics, site geochemistry/hydrology, tropical climate, microbial guilds affecting C and N cycling are been evaluated in an integrative manner.

We actively seek for collaborators with a broad range of complimentary experiences, backgrounds and interests including tropical forest geochemistry, tropical peatland ecology and management, forest ecology, climate modeling, forest management and microbial meta-omics.Currently we collaborate with faculty and researchers from University of Arizona, Purdue University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of Leeds and the Peruvian Amazon Research institute.