Plant and Soil

, Volume 330, Issue 1–2, pp 149–162 | Cite as

Initial effects of forestry operations on N2O and vegetation dynamics in a boreal peatland buffer

  • Päivi Saari
  • Sanna Saarnio
  • Veli Saari
  • Jaakko Heinonen
  • Jukka Alm
Regular Article


Peatland buffer zones with sedimentation ponds are established with the intention of capturing solids and nutrients liberated in drained forestry catchments. As noted in earlier fertilization experiments, added nitrogen (N) immediately increases nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions in such buffers, and we expected the same to happen after disturbances in the catchment caused by clear-cutting, soil preparation, and ditch cleaning. We measured N2O fluxes, water table dynamics, and vegetation cover from a wetland one year before and two years after the clear-cut and buffer establishment. The low pre-harvest emissions did not increase, but N2O emissions from the sedimentation pond exceeded those from humic lakes with a high N load. In the soil profile, N2O concentrations were high, indicating a potential to produce N2O in the buffer. In one sub-site the soil N2O concentration was below the atmospheric level, which was in accordance with the high concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4). The change in vegetation along the overland flow paths could be explained by a shift in the species thriving in wet conditions but not in those requiring higher nutrient levels. In spite of the apparent potential of soil to produce N2O, the fluxes to the atmosphere remained low. Transformation of N2O to unobserved N2 may explain some of the low N emissions, together with the low concentrations entering the buffer.


Peatland buffer Nitrous oxide Peatland forestry Vegetation change 



We warmly thank senior laboratory technicians Anita Pussinen, Seija Repo, Marja Noponen and Julia Keronen, research technicians Urho Kettunen, Markku Tiainen and Matti Naakka and many trainees and research assistants of Finnish Forest Research Institute in Joensuu Research Unit and Nurmes office. Our thanks are also due to Dr. Sirpa Piirainen for commenting the manuscript, Dr. Harri Koivusalo for his valuable comments on hydrological questions, research secretary Leena Karvinen for drawing the map and Seppo M. Heikkinen of Metsähallitus for the data on the clear-cut area and for organizing the snow plough services to the study site every winter. Rosemary Mackenzie (M.A.) revised the English language of the article. The work was funded by the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation, the Niemi-Foundation, the Finnish Forest Research Institute and the Academy of Finland (project 214545).


  1. Alm J, Saarnio S, Nykänen H, Silvola J, Martikainen P (1999) Winter CO2, CH4 and N2O fluxes on some natural and drained boreal peatlands. Biogeochemistry 44:163–186Google Scholar
  2. Alm J, Shurpali NJ, Minkkinen K, Aro L, Hytönen J, Laurila T, Lohila A, Maljanen M, Martikainen PJ, Mäkiranta P, Penttilä T, Saarnio S, Silvan N, Tuittila E-S, Laine J (2007a) Emission factors and their uncertainty for the exchange of CO2, CH4 and N2O in Finnish managed peatlands. Boreal Env Res 12:191–209Google Scholar
  3. Alm J, Shurpali NJ, Tuittila E-S, Laurila T, Maljanen M, Saarnio S, Minkkinen K (2007b) Methods for determining emission factors for the use of peat and peatlands—flux measurements and modelling. Boreal Env Res 12:85–100Google Scholar
  4. Chapuis-Lardy L, Wrage N, Metay A, Chotte J-L, Bernoux M (2007) Soils, a sink for N2O? A review. Glob Chang Biol 13:1–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Drury CF, McKenney DJ, Findlay WI (1991) Relationships between denitrification, microbial biomass and indigenous soil properties. Soil Biol Biochem 23:751–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ernfors M, von Arnold K, Stendahl J, Olsson M, Klemedtsson L (2007) Nitrous oxide emissions from drained organic forest soils—an up-scaling based on C:N ratios. Biogeochemistry 84:219–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Heikkinen K, Ihme R, Lakso E (1995) Contribution of cation exchange property of overflow wetland peat to removal of NH4+ discharged from some Finnish peat mines. Appl Geochem 10:207–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Heikkinen SM (2009) Oral notice. MetsähallitusGoogle Scholar
  9. Huttunen A, Heikkinen K, Ihme R (1996) Nutrient retention in the vegetation of an overland flow treatment system in northern Finland. Aquat Bot 55:61–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Huttunen JT, Alm J, Liikanen A, Juutinen S, Larmola T, Hammar T, Silvola J, Martikainen PJ (2003) Fluxes of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide in boreal lakes and potential anthropogenic effects on the aquatic greenhouse gas emissions. Chemosphere 52:609–621CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Jacinthe P-A, Dick WA (1996) Use of silicone tubing to sample nitrous oxide in the soil atmosphere. Soil Biol Biochem 28:721–726CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Jauhiainen J, Wallén B, Malmer N (1998) Potential NH4+ and NO3 uptake in seven Sphagnum species. New Phytol 138:287–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Juutinen S, Alm J, Larmola T, Huttunen JT, Morero M, Martikainen PJ, Silvola J (2003) Major implication of the littoral zone for methane release from boreal lakes. Global Biogeochem Cycles 17:1117–1128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Khalil MI, Baggs EM (2005) CH4 oxidation and N2O emissions at varied soil water-filled pore spaces and headspace CH4 concentrations. Soil Biol Biochem 37:1785–1794CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kubin E (1998) Leaching of nitrate nitrogen into the groundwater after clear felling and site preparation. Boreal Env Res 3:3–8Google Scholar
  16. Liikanen A, Martikainen PJ (2003) Effect of ammonium and oxygen on methane and nitrous oxide fluxes across sediment-water interface in a eutrophic lake. Chemosphere 52:1287–1293CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Maljanen M, Liikanen A, Silvola J, Martikainen PJ (2003) Nitrous oxide emissions from boreal organic soil under different land-use. Soil Biol Biochem 35:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Mannerkoski H, Finér L, Piirainen S, Starr M (2005) Effect of clear-cutting and site preparation on the level and quality of groundwater in some headwater catchments in eastern Finland. For Ecol Manage 220:107–117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Martikainen PJ, Nykänen H, Alm J, Silvola J (1995) Change in fluxes of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide due to forest drainage of mire sites of different trophy. Plant Soil 168–169:571–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Martikainen PJ, Nykänen H, Crill P, Silvola J (1993) Effect of a lowered water table on nitrous oxide fluxes from northern peatlands. Nature 366:51–53CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McDonald S, Bishop AG, Prenzler PD, Robards K (2004) Analytical chemistry of freshwater humic substances. Anal Chim Acta 527:105–124CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nieminen M (1998) Changes in nitrogen cycling following the clearcutting of drained peatland forests in southern Finland. Boreal Env Res 3:9–21Google Scholar
  23. Nieminen M (2004) Export of dissolved organic carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus following clear-cutting of three Norway spruce forests growing on drained peatlands in Southern Finland. Silva Fenn 38:123–132Google Scholar
  24. Paavilainen E, Päivänen J (1995) Peatland forestry. Ecology and principles. Ecological studies 111. Springer-Verlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  25. Paavolainen L, Smolander A (1998) Nitrification and denitrification in soil from a clear-cut Norway spruce (Picea abies) stand. Soil Biol Biochem 30:775–781CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Palviainen M, Finér L, Kurka A-M, Mannerkoski H, Piirainen S, Starr M (2004) Decomposition and nutrient release from logging residues after clear-cutting of mixed boreal forest. Plant Soil 263:53–67CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pihlatie M, Syväsalo E, Simojoki A, Esala M, Regina K (2004) Contribution of nitrification and denitrification to N2O production in peat, clay and loamy sand soils under different soil moisture conditions. Nutr Cycl Agroecosys 70:135–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Piirainen S, Finér L, Mannerkoski H, Starr M (2007) Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus leaching after site preparation at a boreal forest clear-cut area. For Ecol Manage 243:10–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Raghoebarsing AA, Pol A, van de Pas-Schoonen KT, Smolders AJP, Ettwig KF, Rijpstra WIC, Shouten S, Damsté JSS, Op den Camp HJM, Jetten MSM, Strous M (2006) A microbial consortium couples anaerobic methane oxidation to denitrification. Nature 440:918–921CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Regina K (1998) Microbial production of nitrous oxide and nitric oxide in boreal peatlands. University of Joensuu, DissertationGoogle Scholar
  31. Regina K, Nykänen H, Silvola J, Martikainen PJ (1996) Fluxes of nitrous oxide from boreal peatlands as affected by peatland type, water table level and nitrification capacity. Biogeochemistry 35:401–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Regina K, Nykänen H, Maljanen M, Silvola J, Martikainen P (1998) Emissions of N2O and NO and net nitrogen mineralization in a boreal forested peatlands treated with different nitrogen compounds. Can J For Res 28:132–140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Saari P, Saarnio S, Kukkonen JVK, Akkanen J, Heinonen J, Saari V, Alm J (2009) DOC and N2O dynamics in upland and peatland forest soils after clear-cutting and soil preparation. Biogeochemistry 94:217–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Sallantaus T, Vasander H, Laine J (1998) Metsätalouden vesistöhaittojen torjuminen ojitetuista soista muodostettujen puskurivyöhykkeiden avulla. Suo 49:125–133Google Scholar
  35. Silvan N, Regina K, Kitunen V, Vasander H, Laine J (2002) Gaseous nitrogen loss from a restored peatland buffer zone. Soil Biol Biochem 34:721–728CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Silvan N, Tuittila E-S, Kitunen V, Vasander H, Laine J (2005) Nitrate uptake by Eriophorum vaginatum controls N2O production in a restored peatland. Soil Biol Biochem 37:1519–1526CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Silvan N, Vasander H, Karsisto M, Laine J (2003) Microbial immobilisation of added nitrogen and phosphorus in constructed wetland buffer. Appl Soil Ecol 24:143–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Silvan N, Vasander H, Laine J (2004) Vegetation is the main factor in nutrient retention in a constructed wetland buffer. Plant Soil 258:179–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Smemo KA, Yavitt JB (2007) Evidence for anaerobic CH4 oxidation in freshwater peatlands. Geomicrobiol J 24(7–8):583–597CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Smolander A, Priha O, Paavolainen L, Steer J, Mälkönen E (1998) Nitrogen and carbon transformations before and after clear-cutting in repeatedly N-fertilized and limed forest soil. Soil Biol Biochem 30:477–490CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sommerfeld RA, Mosier AR, Musselman RC (1993) CO2, CH4 and N2O flux through a Wyoming snowpack and implications for global budgets. Nature 361:140–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Thauer RK, Shima S (2006) Methane and microbes. Nature 440:878–879CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Thurman EM (1985) Organic geochemistry of natural waters. Martinus Nijhoff/Dr W Junk, NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  44. Vikman A, Ahti E, Vuollekoski M, Sallantaus T, Nousiainen H, Silvan N, Laine J, Nieminen M (2008) Retention of nitrogen by peatland buffer zones at six forested catchments in Southern and Central Finland. In: Farrell C, Feehan J (eds) After wise use—the future of peatlands. Proceedings of the 13th International Peat Congress, Tullamore, Ireland, Vol. 2, International Peat Society, Jyväskylä. pp. 182–184Google Scholar
  45. Vitousek PM, Matson PA (1984) Mechanisms of nitrogen retention in forest ecosystems: a field experiment. Science 225:51–52CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Wrage N, Velthof GL, van Beusichem ML, Oenema O (2001) Role of nitrifier denitrification in the production of nitrous oxide. Soil Biol Biochem 33:1723–1732CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Päivi Saari
    • 1
  • Sanna Saarnio
    • 1
  • Veli Saari
    • 2
  • Jaakko Heinonen
    • 3
  • Jukka Alm
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Biosciences, University of JoensuuJoensuuFinland
  2. 2.Department of Biological and Environmental ScienceUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  3. 3.Finnish Forest Research Institute, Joensuu Research UnitJoensuuFinland

Personalised recommendations