Regional applied research effort (RARE) project
Description/Rationale and Research Approach:
This project is a FY10 RARE-funded project titled “Functional Assessment of Peatlands and Role in Ecosystem Services” and a MED (Mid-Continent Ecology Division) project under the 2012 exploratory research plan titled “Alaskan Peatlands Project.” The goal of this work is to improve our understanding of functions that sustain peatlands, especially hydrology, peat decomposition, and nutrient cycling. There are four tasks that will address the following questions:
- Peatland Porewater Are peatland classes associated with measured hydrologic function (discharge, recharge, or lateral flow through the peat)? Are chemical constituents of porewater reflective of hydrologic function (as discharge, recharge, or lateral flow-dominated movement)?
- EMMA (End-Member Mixing Model Analysis) Surface Water Do wetlands in a watershed provide baseflow to streams and thus provide support for anadromous fish and stream fisheries?
- Microbial Ecoenzymes Are various microbial enzyme activities associated with peatland classes? Can metrics for nutrient functions, nutrient limitation, and expected concentrations for reference wetlands be developed from measurements of microbial enzyme activities?
- Arsenic Do peatlands in the Cook Inlet basin have arsenic in their porewaters which could adversely affect provisioning of drinking water and support of wildlife?
In 2010 the field work was completed and laboratory analyses have been done since then. FY13 will bring forth a final report from the EPA Cooperative Agreement Grant AE83482601 and a deliverable report to Region 10 who selected this work for RARE funding support. This will be the first product of this project. Two additional products in the form of peer-reviewed publications are in the works for FY14. The first will be a publication that compares the Cook Inlet wetland classification system with other wetland classification systems; the second will be a publication on the application of hydrologic and chemical indicators to demonstrate several ecological functions of peatlands in the Cook Inlet lowlands. These products will inform environmental managers in this rapidly developing area with scientific knowledge of how wetlands in this area function and several ecoservices the peatlands provide to remain sustainable and healthy ecosystems.