Jump to main content.

Peatlands ecosystem services: Linking carbon and nitrogen dynamics with regional-scale air and water quality protection


Peatland ecosystem services fall primarily under either air and water quality protection, and include the benefits of increasing N availability for aquatic productivity, as well as losses of services related to declining air and water quality and associated compliance and monitoring costs. The increased productivity (and C sequestration) associated with N inputs to peatland is accompanied by increases in greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a degradation of the clean air ecosystem service.

Rationale and Research Approach:

1) Quantification of N removal by various classes of wetlands and their catchments, including N uptake, storage, burial, nitrification, and denitrification in peatlands (ombrotrophic bogs, minerotrophic fens), a prominent landscape feature of the Great Lakes region.

2) Investigating the role of microbial metabolism, specifically ecoenzymes produced by microbial assemblages in their acquisition of C, N, and P, in peatland nitrogen removal. C, N, and P cycling in peatlands are constrained by nutrient availability and that release of nutrients will be mediated by microbial ecoenzymes. This flush of nutrients will result in increased primary productivity (wetland C sequestration), but also increased aerobic and anaerobic organic matter decomposition leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions. This tight coupling of C, N, and P with microbial activity yields robust predictive models of C, N, and P dynamics in peatlands.

MED Scientists:

Colleen Elonen
Brian Hill
Terri Jicha



Expected Products:




Sep 30, 2013 Report: Microbial enzyme activity and C and N processing in bogs and fens. Brian Hill
Sep 30, 2014 Manuscript on N mass balance and the importance of nitrification/denitrification potential in peatlands of the Upper Mississippi River basin. Brian Hill

Top of page

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.