Carbon fluxes and soil carbon dynamics along a gradient of biogeomorphic succession in alpine wetlands of Tibetan Plateau

Hao Wang, Lingfei Yu, Litong Chen, Zhenhua Zhang, Xuefei Li, Naishen Liang, Changhui Peng, Jin Sheng He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hydrological changes under climate warming drive the biogeomorphic succession of wetlands and may trigger substantial carbon loss from the carbon-rich ecosystems. Although many studies have explored the responses of wetland carbon emissions to short-term hydrological change, it remains poorly understood how the carbon cycle evolves with hydrology-driven wetland succession. Here, we used a space-for-time approach across hydrological gradients on the Tibetan Plateau to examine the dynamics of ecosystem carbon fluxes (carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4)) and soil organic carbon pools during alpine wetland succession. We found that the succession from mesic meadow to fen changed the seasonality of both CO2 and CH4 fluxes, which was related to the shift in plant community composition, enhanced regulation of soil hydrology and increasing contribution of spring-thaw emission. The paludification caused a switch from net uptake of gaseous carbon to net release on an annual timescale but produced a large accumulation of soil organic carbon. We attempted to attribute the paradox between evidence from the carbon fluxes and pools to the lateral carbon input and the systematic changes of historical climate, given that the wetlands are spatially low-lying with strong temporal climate-carbon cycle interactions. These findings demonstrate a systematic change in the carbon cycle with succession and suggest that biogeomorphic succession and lateral carbon flows are both important for understanding the long-term dynamics of wetland carbon footprints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-159
Number of pages9
JournalFundamental Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Weimin Song, Zhaorong Mi, Chao Wang and Guangshuai Wang for collecting the field data and Chao Song, Shushi Peng and Yahai Lu for their insightful suggestions on an earlier conception of this manuscript. This study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China ( 32130065 , 31901145 , 32111530062 ), the Discipline Construction Fund of Peking University and the Academy of Finland (341294).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Climate change
  • Hydrological change
  • Methane
  • Soil organic carbon


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