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Peat Soils

  • Khan Towhid Osman
Chapter

Abstract

Peat soils are the most dominant type of organic soils developed through centuries under wetland conditions by the accumulation of partially decomposed and undecomposed plant residues. The other type of organic soil is muck which also develops by the accumulation of organic soil materials, but in this type, materials are relatively well decomposed, and the sources of materials are not identifiable. Saturation or submergence of the substratratum and the complete absence of free oxygen cause very slow anaerobic decomposition of organic matter so that deep organic soils or Histosols can evolve. However, a vast expanse of peat soil is called a peatland. More than half of the global wetlands are composed of peatlands; they cover 3 percent of the land and freshwater surface of the earth. Peat soils develop in several wetland types, including mires (bogs, fens), swamps, marshes, and pocosins. Peat soils occur in all regions, but they are more widespread in the temperate and cold zones of the Northern Hemisphere. There are 12.2 M ha (million hectare) peatlands in Africa, 23.5 M ha in Asia and the Far East, 7.4 M ha in Latin America, 4.1 M ha in Australia, 117.8 M ha in North America and 75.0 M ha in Europe. Peatland vegetation includes Sphagnum mosses, rushes and sedges, bog cotton, ling heather, bog rosemary, bog asphodel and sundew. There are also forested peatlands in Europe (Alder forests) and in lowland humid tropical areas of Southeast Asia (fresh water swamp forests and mangroves). Peat soils are characterized by high water table, absence of oxygen, reducing condition, low bulk density and bearing capacity, soft spongy substratum, low fertility, and usually high acidity.

Keywords

Mires Swamps Marshes Fen Organic soils Peat Muck Histosols Peatlands Peatland use Peat extraction Peatland reclamation Peatland restoration 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Khan Towhid Osman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Soil ScienceUniversity of ChittagongChittagongBangladesh

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