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The Biology of Peatlands$
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Hakan Rydin and John K Jeglum

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780198528722

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198528722.001.0001

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Hydrology of peatlands

Hydrology of peatlands

(p.138) 8 Hydrology of peatlands
The Biology of Peatlands

Håkan Rydin

John K. Jeglum

Oxford University Press

Understanding the hydrology is fundamental for understanding peatland habitats, and this chapter considers both the quantitative and qualitative (chemical) aspects of water in peatlands. It describes how depth to the water table (DWT) governs vegetational physiognomy, plant occurrence, and growth. Hydraulic conductivity is an important concept affecting the water flow in the peat; and how the conductivity is related to degree of decomposition (humification) of the peat, is discussed. Variation in hydraulic conductivity is a basis for the separation in bogs between an upper, aerated ‘active layer’ (acrotelm) and the lower, constantly anoxic ‘inactive layer’ (catotelm). The water balance of a peatland is an accounting of the inputs, outputs and storage of water. The variation in water chemistry (with a focus on pH, calcium content, and electric conductivity) in peatlands is discussed, and methods for measurement introduced.

Keywords:   hydrology, peatland habitats, hydraulic conductivity, water table, vegetational physiognomy, plant occurrence, decomposition, bogs, water chemistry

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