Identification, geo-hydromorphological assessment and the state of degradation of the southernmost blanket bogs in Europe

Chico, G. ORCID: 0000-0002-5915-3373, 2020. Identification, geo-hydromorphological assessment and the state of degradation of the southernmost blanket bogs in Europe. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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Blanket bogs are a globally rare type of ombrotrophic peatland internationally recognised for long-term terrestrial carbon storage, the potential to serve as carbon sinks and habitat provision. The majority of recognised areas of this habitat in Europe are found in the United Kingdom and Ireland, but the rarer examples found in Spain represent the southernmost continental edge-of-range. However, gaps in the peatland inventory suggest that a number of blanket bogs in the Cantabrian Mountains (northern Spain) are not recognised and are at increased threat of loss.

This study identifies and provides geo-hydromorphological classification for 14 unrecorded blanket bogs and one protected blanket bog located between the administrative regions of Cantabria and Castilla y León. Peat depth surveys and carbon analysis of peat cores were used to determine the amount of carbon stored within the newly identified blanket bogs and the current rate, and drivers, of peatland degradation were examined using remote sensing techniques.

A total extent of blanket bog covering 44.45 ha (>40 cm peat depth) containing more than 500,000 m3 of peat and an estimated 44.88 ± 3.31 kt C was mapped. Approximately 30.8% of the surface of blanket bogs examined was exposed peat, and even in the protected site, exposed peat surfaces are losing a minimum of 1.7 t C m-2 yr-1. The presence of livestock in unprotected sites is increasing the rate of erosion by over five times, and without protection exposed peat surfaces are releasing as much as 3.84 t C m-2 yr-1.

The peatlands identified in this research extend the known limit of blanket bogs in Europe farther south than previously recorded and represent 10.5% of blanket bog currently recognised and protected in Spain. The range of anthropogenic pressures currently acting on peatlands in the Cantabrian Mountains, specifically livestock and windfarms, indicates that without protection these important landforms and stored carbon may be lost. An urgent update of European peatland inventories is thus required to preserve these valuable carbon stores and potential carbon sinks.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Chico, G.
Date: September 2020
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of the author. You may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner of the Intellectual Property Rights
Divisions: Schools > School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 11 Mar 2021 08:54
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:05

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