- LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 November 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0035
- LAST REVIEWED: 19 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 November 2016
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199830060-0035
Peatland ecosystems are characterized by a substantial accumulation of organic matter in soil (peat), resulting from long-term excess of net primary production at the surface compared to decomposition throughout the peat column. Globally, peatlands cover 3–4 percent of the earth’s land surface, yet they store 25–30 percent of the world’s soil carbon (about 455 Pg of C) and 9–16 percent of the world’s soil nitrogen (8–15 Pg of N) in peat. These large stores of C and N are especially vulnerable to global climate change. Although peatlands occur from the tropics to the Arctic, it is in the boreal region where peatlands are most abundant. The presence of a well-developed ground layer of mosses along with either abundant shrubs or sedges makes the population and community ecology of these ecosystems interesting and challenging. The high water table, presence of anoxia, and isolation from all nutrient inputs—except the atmosphere in some peatlands (bogs)—present unique opportunities to study the hydrology and biogeochemistry.
The first modern foundational overview of peatlands was Gore 1983a and Gore 1983b, published as part of the Ecosystems of the World Series, a two-volume set that presents a series of detailed chapters on processes, communities, and organisms occurring in mires (peatlands), and a series of excellent regional studies. Three excellent regional overviews of peatlands followed soon after. Canada Committee on Ecological (Biophysical) Land Classification 1988 provides the first in-depth treatment of Canada’s wetlands (largely peatlands). It is here that the well-accepted “Canadian classification” of wetlands is outlined. Shortly afterward, Wright, et al. 1992 presents an edited series of chapters on the patterned peatlands of Minnesota, following largely on a decadal study of these peatlands that was done mostly at the University of Minnesota. Although regional in scope, these two books developed many of our modern concepts of hydrology, community patterns, and development of peatlands. Crum 1992 centers on the peatlands of the upper US Midwest. Unlike the Canadian and Minnesota books, which presented original data and new ideas, Crum’s book offers a lively written review of his ideas of peatland flora and processes. His emphasis on Sphagnum as an important floristic component made available a lifetime of information on this important group of plants. Dierssen and Dierssen 2001 provides the first modern review of the peatlands of central Europe. This book is filled with wonderful photos and detailed vegetation notes, and it is full of new and interesting details on European peatlands (written in German). Joosten and Clarke 2002 explores what we know from a conservation point of view, and Bauerochse and Hassmann 2003 is an edited series of chapters on peatlands as archaeological sites and archives of nature. More recently, two books have served to review our knowledge of peatlands. Rydin and Jeglum 2006 is the first textbook on peatlands. This excellent overview of the processes and communities of peatlands can readily be used in the advanced classroom. Wieder and Vitt 2006 is a series of chapters on boreal peatlands that reviews the state of our knowledge.
Bauerochse, Andrew, and Henning Hassmann, eds. 2003. Peatlands: Archaeological sites, archives of nature, nature conservation, wise use. Rahden, Germany: Verlag Marie Leidorf.
A complete review of the archaeological finds from central and western Europe.
Canada Committee on Ecological (Biophysical) Land Classification, National Wetlands Working Group. 1988. Wetlands of Canada. Ecological Land Classification Series 24. Ottawa, ON: Sustainable Development Branch, Canadian Wildlife Service, Conservation and Protection, Environment Canada.
A regionalized, detailed treatment of Canada’s wetlands. Original data are presented for the first time for many of Canada’s northern areas. The Canadian wetland classification is also presented in some detail.
Crum, Howard. 1992. A focus on peatlands and peat mosses. Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press.
Howard Crum writes about his fascination with peatlands, including wonderful literature quotes, and his views of peatland processes and plants.
Dierssen, Klaus, and Barbara Dierssen. 2001. Moore. Stuttgart: Ulmer.
A beautifully illustrated book on the peatlands of central Europe (in German).
Gore, A. J. P., ed. 1983a. Mires: Swamp, bog, fen, and moor; General studies. Ecosystems of the World 4A. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
Detailed treatise on the world’s peatlands, including general processes in the first of two volumes.
Gore, A. J. P., ed. 1983b. Mires: Swamp, bog, fen, and moor; Regional studies. Ecosystems of the World 4B. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
The second volume of a two-volume detailed treatise on the world’s peatlands, including reviews of regional peatland diversity and development.
Joosten, H., and D. Clarke. 2002. Wise use of mires and peatlands. Helsinki: International Mire Conservation Group and International Peat Society.
A review of the commercial use of peatlands, their preservation, and their restoration.
Rydin, Håkan, and John K. Jeglum. 2006. The biology of peatlands. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
The first real textbook on peatlands.
Wieder, R. Kelman, and Dale H. Vitt, eds. 2006. Boreal peatland ecosystems. Berlin: Springer Verlag.
A series of chapters devoted to our current understanding of boreal peatlands. This book contains comprehensive bibliographies of peatland-related scientific articles.
Wright, Herbert E., Jr., Barbara A. Coffin, and Norman E. Aaseng, eds. 1992. The patterned peatlands of Minnesota. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.
A thorough study of the peatlands of northern Minnesota, including the largest peatland complex in the lower forty-eight states (the Red Lake Peatland). Includes a comprehensive set of chapters on the hydrology and development of the Red Lake Peatland.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email email@example.com to express your interest.
- Accounting for Ecological Capital
- Allocation of Reproductive Resources in Plants
- Animals, Functional Morphology of
- Animals, Reproductive Allocation in
- Animals, Thermoregulation in
- Antarctic Environments and Ecology
- Applied Ecology
- Aquatic Conservation
- Aquatic Nutrient Cycling
- Archaea, Ecology of
- Assembly Models
- Bacterial Diversity in Freshwater
- Benthic Ecology
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning
- Biodiversity Patterns in Agricultural Systms
- Biological Chaos and Complex Dynamics
- Biome, Alpine
- Biome, Boreal
- Biome, Desert
- Biome, Grassland
- Biome, Savanna
- Biome, Tundra
- Biomes, African
- Biomes, East Asian
- Biomes, Mountain
- Biomes, North American
- Biomes, South Asian
- Bryophyte Ecology
- Butterfly Ecology
- Carson, Rachel
- Chemical Ecology
- Classification Analysis
- Coastal Dune Habitats
- Communities and Ecosystems, Indirect Effects in
- Communities, Top-Down and Bottom-Up Regulation of
- Community Concept, The
- Community Ecology
- Community Genetics
- Community Phenology
- Competition and Coexistence in Animal Communities
- Competition in Plant Communities
- Complexity Theory
- Conservation Biology
- Conservation Genetics
- Coral Reefs
- Darwin, Charles
- De-Glaciation, Ecology of
- Disease Ecology
- Drought as a Disturbance in Forests
- Early Explorers, The
- Earth’s Climate, The
- Eco-Evolutionary Dynamics
- Ecological Dynamics in Fragmented Landscapes
- Ecological Informatics
- Ecology, Microbial (Community)
- Ecosystem Engineers
- Ecosystem Multifunctionality
- Ecosystem Services
- Ecosystem Services, Conservation of
- Elton, Charles
- Endophytes, Fungal
- Energy Flow
- Environments, Extreme
- Ethics, Ecological
- Facilitation and the Organization of Communities
- Fern and Lycophyte Ecology
- Fire Ecology
- Food Webs
- Foraging Behavior, Implications of
- Foraging, Optimal
- Forests, Temperate Coniferous
- Forests, Temperate Deciduous
- Freshwater Invertebrate Ecology
- Genetic Considerations in Plant Ecological Restoration
- Genomics, Ecological
- Geographic Range
- Gleason, Henry
- Greig-Smith, Peter
- Gymnosperm Ecology
- Habitat Selection
- Harper, John L.
- Heavy Metal Tolerance
- Himalaya, Ecology of the
- Host-Parasitoid Interactions
- Human Ecology
- Human Ecology of the Andes
- Hutchinson, G. Evelyn
- Insect Ecology, Terrestrial
- Introductory Sources
- Invasive Species
- Island Biogeography Theory
- Island Biology
- Kin Selection
- Landscape Dynamics
- Landscape Ecology
- Laws, Ecological
- Legume-Rhizobium Symbiosis, The
- Leopold, Aldo
- Lichen Ecology
- Life History
- Literature, Ecology and
- MacArthur, Robert H.
- Mangrove Zone Ecology
- Marine Fisheries Management
- Mathematical Ecology
- Mating Systems
- Maximum Sustainable Yield
- Metabolic Scaling Theory
- Metacommunity Dynamics
- Metapopulations and Spatial Population Processes
- Mutualisms and Symbioses
- Mycorrhizal Ecology
- Natural History Tradition, The
- Networks, Ecological
- Niche Versus Neutral Models of Community Organization
- Nutrient Foraging in Plants
- Ordination Analysis
- Organic Agriculture, Ecology of
- Parental Care, Evolution of
- Patch Dynamics
- Phenotypic Selection
- Philosophy, Ecological
- Phylogenetics and Comparative Methods
- Physiological Ecology of Nutrient Acquisition in Animals
- Physiological Ecology of Photosynthesis
- Physiological Ecology of Water Balance in Terrestrial Anim...
- Plant Disease Epidemiology
- Plant Ecological Responses to Extreme Climatic Events
- Polar Regions
- Pollination Ecology
- Population Dynamics, Density-Dependence and Single-Species
- Population Dynamics, Methods in
- Population Fluctuations and Cycles
- Population Genetics
- Population Viability Analysis
- Populations and Communities, Dynamics of Age- and Stage-St...
- Predation and Community Organization
- Predator-Prey Interactions
- Reductionism Versus Holism
- Religion and Ecology
- Remote Sensing
- Restoration Ecology
- Ricketts, Edward Flanders Robb
- Seed Ecology
- Serpentine Soils
- Shelford, Victor
- Soil Biogeochemistry
- Soil Ecology
- Spatial Pattern Analysis
- Spatial Patterns of Species Biodiversity in Terrestrial En...
- Species Extinctions
- Species Responses to Climate Change
- Species-Area Relationships
- Stability and Ecosystem Resilience, A Below-Ground Perspec...
- Stoichiometry, Ecological
- Stream Ecology
- Systems Ecology
- Tansley, Sir Arthur
- Terrestrial Resource Limitation
- Thermal Ecology of Animals
- Tragedy of the Commons
- Trophic Levels
- Vegetation Classification
- Vegetation Mapping
- Weed Ecology
- Whittaker, Robert H.
- Wildlife Ecology