MOOR HOUSE (UK)
OPERATING INSTITUTE: NERC-Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
MAIN PURPOSE: Ecological research, climate, air pollution, land use, biodiversity.
ECOSYSTEM TYPE: Grazed moorland.
EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENTS: Sheep grazing, moorland burning.
LOCALISATION: 54.610837312989446 -2.76763916015625
FACILITIES: Moor House is an upland moorland site on an extensive area of blanket peat bog. It has a long history of research and is currently a focal point for research concerning carbon fluxes in peat soils, water and vegetation. It is also a long-term monitoring and research (LTER) site, part of the UK Environmental Change Network. A wide range of long-term measurements are made at the site. Facilities include a fully automated meteorological station (and a back-up manual weather station). The infrastructure provides a platform for a range of experiments (currently primarily concerning carbon fluxes) that are supported by continuous monitoring of climate (hourly), atmospheric deposition chemistry (weekly), soil solution chemistry (2 weekly), soil bulk chemistry (5 yearly) river chemistry (weekly) and associated flow (hourly), in addition to the annual monitoring of vegetation and more frequent measurement of a range of other biological variables. Measurements follow clear protocols, also carried out at 11 other UK Environmental Change Network sites situated in a range of habitats across the UK that could also provide supporting data.
In addition to the continuing long-term monitoring and research, recent developments include an experimental investigation into the suitability of plastic matting as a surface for moorland tracks (lead by Natural England & Leeds University). The restoration of 20ha of eroded peatland began in 2013 (lead by the North Pennines AONB Partnership).
● Lee, H., Alday, J. G., Rose, R. J., O’Reilly, J. & Marrs R. H. 2013. Long-term effects of rotational prescribed burning and low-intensity sheep grazing on blanket-bog plant communities. Journal of Applied Ecology doi: 10.1111/1365-2664.12078.
● Van Winden, J. F., Reichart, G., McNamara, N. P., Benthien, A. & Sinninghe Damste, J. S. 2012. Temperature-Induced Increase in Methane Release from Peat Bogs: A Mesocosm Experiment. PLoS ONE 7(6): e39614. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039614.
● Ward, S. E., Ostle, N. J., Oakley, S., Quirk, H., Stott, A., Henrys, P. A., Scott, W. A. & Bardgett, R. D. 2012. Fire Accelerates Assimilation and Transfer of Photosynthetic Carbon from Plants to Soil Microbes in a Northern Peatland. Ecosystems, DOI: 10.1007/s10021-012-9581-8.
TA PROJECT: Characterisation of organo-mineral associations in soil by NanoSIMS
TA User (visit): Thilo Rennert, TU München, GERMANY (April, 2012).
Project Description: Lasting water saturation in soil may induce depletion of oxygen and subsequent microbial reduction of Mn and Fe oxides. Re-aeration leads to precipitation of new Mn and Fe phases, which are known to be effective sorbents of organic matter by superficial adsorption and/or co-precipitation. These processes result in the formation of complex biogeochemical interfaces, the composition and architecture of which are still largely unknown. Therefore, we plan to study organo-mineral associations formed in situ in soil horizons with fluctuating reducing and oxidizing conditions. For sample collection, glass wafers will be placed in soil horizons with a fluctuating water table to remain there for a period of water saturation (reduction) and subsequent re-aeration (oxidation) (approx. 6 months). After removal from soil, freshly precipitated organo-mineral associations settled on the wafer surface are to be studied by NanoSIMS, a technique which we also offer to the ExpeER network. NanoSIMS allows for the simultaneous analysis of up to 7 seven ion species released from the sample surface after bombardment by a primary ion beam. Given the sensitivity in the ppm range and a lateral resolution of down to 50 nm, the chemical characterization of small particles on the nano-scale is possible. Further information on the architecture of micro-aggregates of the particles can be obtained by analyzing thin sections produced from micro-aggregates embedded in resin. A prerequisite for our study is information on water-table fluctuations and soil-solution composition (redox indicators such as Fe(II) and nitrate). We therefore strongly rely on a well monitored field site on hydromorphic soils. We plan to carry out the study at a site of the ExpeER program operated by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in Lancaster, UK (“Moor House”), where these data are monitored.