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The Biogeochemical Heterogeneity of Peatlands

November 20, 2019 at 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM

Location:A220 Loeb Building
Key Contact:Marlo Collier, Administrative Assistant to the Chair

Please join us on Wednesday November 20th at 2:30pm for the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies Founders Seminar Series featuring Dr. Julie Talbot, Professor, Department of Geography, Université de Montréal. The seminar will be in Loeb A220.

Title: The biogeochemical heterogeneity of peatlands

Abstract: Peatlands are common ecosystems in Canada that provide a variety of ecosystem services, including carbon storage. These services depend upon the stability of peatland structure and functions in a changing environment. Peatlands, and especially ombrotrophic peatlands, are often treated like uniform ecosystems for the purposes of measurements and extrapolation. However, a closer look at their features reveals important structural and functional heterogeneity. One example of this heterogeneity is the presence of microtopography, from low hollows where water table is closer to the surface of the peat and where vegetation is adapted to these wetter conditions, to high hummocks which are drier. For a large but unknown proportion of peatlands, open water pools of different shapes, depths and areas are present. The margin of peatlands also exhibits structural and functional heterogeneity, a more dynamic hydrology, and varying nutrient statuses. This heterogeneity may be important to help understanding the different controls on peatland biogeochemistry as it provides a wider array of conditions than the relatively stable conditions that peatlands experience from year to year. In this talk, I will address the following questions: how heterogeneous is peatland biogeochemistry? How functionally important is this heterogeneity? How can it help predict the future of peatlands?

Bio: Julie Talbot is a professor in the Department of geography at Université de Montréal since 2012. Her research focuses on the impacts of human activities on the biogeochemical functions of natural ecosystems, especially wetlands. She is also working on improving and applying methods of environmental footprint calculations, especially the nitrogen footprint.