• 1 Sydney Institute of Agriculture, School of Life and Environmental Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • 2 Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Fredericton, NB, Canada
  • 3 Program of Crop Science, Faculty of Fisheries and Food Science, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Kuala Nerus, Malaysia
  • 4 Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Qld, Australia
Glob Chang Biol, 2020 08;26(8):4583-4600.
PMID: 32391633 DOI: 10.1111/gcb.15147


Tropical peatlands are vital ecosystems that play an important role in global carbon storage and cycles. Current estimates of greenhouse gases from these peatlands are uncertain as emissions vary with environmental conditions. This study provides the first comprehensive analysis of managed and natural tropical peatland GHG fluxes: heterotrophic (i.e. soil respiration without roots), total CO2 respiration rates, CH4 and N2 O fluxes. The study documents studies that measure GHG fluxes from the soil (n = 372) from various land uses, groundwater levels and environmental conditions. We found that total soil respiration was larger in managed peat ecosystems (median = 52.3 Mg CO2  ha-1  year-1 ) than in natural forest (median = 35.9 Mg CO2  ha-1  year-1 ). Groundwater level had a stronger effect on soil CO2 emission than land use. Every 100 mm drop of groundwater level caused an increase of 5.1 and 3.7 Mg CO2  ha-1  year-1 for plantation and cropping land use, respectively. Where groundwater is deep (≥0.5 m), heterotrophic respiration constituted 84% of the total emissions. N2 O emissions were significantly larger at deeper groundwater levels, where every drop in 100 mm of groundwater level resulted in an exponential emission increase (exp(0.7) kg N ha-1  year-1 ). Deeper groundwater levels induced high N2 O emissions, which constitute about 15% of total GHG emissions. CH4 emissions were large where groundwater is shallow; however, they were substantially smaller than other GHG emissions. When compared to temperate and boreal peatland soils, tropical peatlands had, on average, double the CO2 emissions. Surprisingly, the CO2 emission rates in tropical peatlands were in the same magnitude as tropical mineral soils. This comprehensive analysis provides a great understanding of the GHG dynamics within tropical peat soils that can be used as a guide for policymakers to create suitable programmes to manage the sustainability of peatlands effectively.

* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.