Evolution of organic matter indicators in response to major environmental changes: the case of a formerly cutover peatbog (Le Russey, Jura Mountains, France).

Abstract : To assess whether the biochemical characteristics of peat can provide clues for past ecosystem changes or not, a study was carried out combining elemental analysis, micro-morphological counts and neutral monosaccharide determination of peat organic matter (OM) and the dominant living plants from a formerly cut-over peat bog in the Jura Mountains. Peat profiles (up to 50 cm depth) from two distinctive zones (bare peat, FRA and a regenerating stage, FRC) were compared with the reference profile (FRD) taken from an unexploited area of the bog. The results show contrasting OM composition along the profiles. In the upper sections of the FRD and FRC profiles, high C/N ratios and sugar contents (in the same range as in the source plants) and the large predominance of well preserved plant tissues indicate good preservation of primary biological inputs. In contrast, in peat from the FRA profile and deeper levels of the FRC profile, lower C/N ratios, lower amounts of sugars and a predominance of amorphous OM and mucilage suggest more extensive OM degradation. These features delineate a clear threshold between an uppermost "new" regenerating peat section and an "old" catotelm peat below. Nevertheless, even in the latter, the sugar contents remain relatively high (>80 mg/g) compared with other organic and mineral soils. Analysis of typical peat-forming plants and of bulk peat and fine grained fractions allowed identification of the following source indicators: xylose and arabinose for Cyperaceae; rhamnose, galactose and mannose for mosses; and ribose (and to a lesser extent, hemicellulosic glucose) possibly for microbial synthesis.
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Laure Comont, Fatima Laggoun-Défarge, Jean-Robert Disnar. Evolution of organic matter indicators in response to major environmental changes: the case of a formerly cutover peatbog (Le Russey, Jura Mountains, France).. Organic Geochemistry, Elsevier, 2006, 37, pp.1736-1751. ⟨10.1016/j.orggeochem.2006.08.005⟩. ⟨hal-00079740⟩

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