Current issue: 56(4)
The aim of the present study was to collect information on biological activity in the topmost 30 cm peat layer in certain natural and drained peatlands of different fertility, covered by different stands.
The results showed that if the ground water table in peatland sites is located in the immediate vicinity of the ground surface (about 5-10 cm in depth), conditions are reducing, and often even anaerobic, up to the ground surface. By means of drainage the aerobic limit can be dropped to a greater depth. This will occur because of the aerobic limit closely follows the fluctuation of the ground water table.
Although, by means of drainage, the aerobic limit can be lowered to more than 50 cm in depth, rains are followed by a rise of a ground water table and the aerobic limit; hereby a change from oxidizing to reducing conditions takes place. Only by keeping the ground water table and the aerobic limit constantly at the depth of more than 50 cm is it possible to obtain oxidizing conditions in the topmost 20-30 cm peat layer. The anaerobic conditions prevent the tree roots penetrating deeper in the peat.
In reducing conditions cellulose decomposition as well as carbon dioxide release from peat samples is slower than in oxidizing conditions. The rate of cellulose decomposition, however, is essentially dependent on the nitrogen content and the acidity of the peat.