Spatial variability of soil lipids reflects vegetation cover in a French peatland

Abstract : The purpose of this study was to show how current vegetation in a peatland is imprinted in the lipid fraction of the underlying soil. La Guette is a fen peatland in Central France dominated by Sphagnum spp. and ericaceous shrubs, colonized by sedges (Molinia caerulea) and trees since the 1970s (Betula pendula and Pinus sylvestris). Lipid were identified and quantified in the most abundant plants and in samples collected at the base of M. caerulea tussocks. Among relevant biomarkers, tricyclic diterpenes and methoxy-serratenes stood out as specific for P. sylvestris, betulin derivatives as specific for B. pendula, and some pentacyclic triterpene ketones and acetates as biomarkers of Ericaceae. Multivariate analysis applied to biomarker concentration in soil samples from several sites permitted distinguishing three different vegetation types: vegetation cover: (i) closed vegetation dominated by P. sylvestris; (ii) closed vegetation dominated B. pendula and (iii) open vegetation or semi-open vegetation (early colonization by trees) constituted mainly by Ericaceae, Sphagnum and graminoids. Comparison of tree-specific biomarker concentrations with estimates of tree biomass allowed establishing of quantitative relationships that were valid over at least 80 m2 around the sampling site. Although preliminary, the results are promising in attempting to relate biomarker concentrations in geological archives to paleo-biomass.
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Renata Zocatelli, Jérémy Jacob, Sébastien Gogo, Claude Le Milbeau, Julien Rousseau, et al.. Spatial variability of soil lipids reflects vegetation cover in a French peatland. Organic Geochemistry, Elsevier, 2014, 76, pp.173-183. ⟨10.1016/j.orggeochem.2014.07.016⟩. ⟨insu-01057366⟩

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