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Peatland Ecology Working Group

Peatland Ecology Working Group

We are an informal working group concerned with peatland ecology. We combine expertise in plant ecology/ecophysiology and soil biology in our research topics, allowing us to combine different approaches to gain a comprehensive understanding of peatland ecosystem functioning. The group brings together not only some members of the Department of Ecosystem Biology and the Department of Experimental Plant Biology, but also people from other institutions.

One of the directions of our research is to evaluate the impact of long-term drainage and revegetation on the functioning of different peatland types (bogs, fens, spruce mires) with a focus on vegetation, organic matter quality, nutrient transformations, microbial community composition, production and emissions of greenhouse gases. Monitoring the impact of hydrological revitalization on the restoration of basic ecosystem functions of peatlands aims to identify suitable ecological indicators to evaluate the revitalization success.

Another topic is how plants have adapted to the specific environment of peatlands and how they influence peatland development. Our focus is on Sphagnum, i.e. moss ecosystem engineers, which often have a determining influence on the process of peat deposition. Therefore, in addition to the ecology and physiology of peatland plants, we also focus on the biochemical properties of their dead biomass from which peat is formed.

We also focus on interactions in the soil–plant–atmosphere continuum in ecosystems with organic soils. We study plant biomass and nutrient allocation patterns, and the quantity and quality of plant inputs (litter, root exudates) to the soil. We thus link above- and belowground plant processes to understand how changing environmental and management conditions may impact the processes and functioning of these ecosystems.

We are involved mainly in research of peatlands in the Bohemian Forest mts., in cooperation with the Šumava National Park, but also with other institutions. Within the framework of international cooperation we have participated in research of peatlands in various European countries. Selected long-term monitored sites in Šumava are also part of the Global Peatland Microbiome Project.

Projects carried out in the field of peatland research

  • MiDiPeat (Monitoring of peat microbial diversity through vegetation properties and its implication for carbon dynamics across European peatlands; 2024–2026, European Biodiversity Partnership, PI: Tomáš Hájek/Zuzana Urbanová)
  • LIFE for MIRES (Transboundary restoration of mires for biodiversity and landscape hydrology in Šumava and Bavarian Forest; 2018–2024, LIFE Programme, PI: Zuzana Urbanová)
  • The influence of plant functional type and phenology on plant inputs to soil as affected by simultaneous changes in environmental factors (2019–2022, Czech Science Foundation, PI: Keith Edwards)
  • Decay resistance of Sphagnum – biochemical causes and consequences (2018-2020, Czech Science Foundation, PI: Tomáš Hájek)
  • Effect of hydrological restoration of long-term drained peatlands on functional diversity of soil microorganisms in relation to organic matter quality (2014–2016, Czech Science Foundation, PI: Zuzana Urbanová)
  • Functional diversity of soil microorganisms in spruce swamp forest and its effect on soil DOM (2013–2016, Czech Science Foundation, PI: Tomáš Picek)
  • Calcium tolerance in Sphagnum, its physiological and genetic backgrounds, and consequences in mire ecology (2010–2014, Czech Science Foundation, PI: Tomáš Hájek)
  • The importance of newly assimilated carbon on plant–soil interactions in wet grasslands under changing environmental conditions (2009–2013, Czech Science Foundation, PI: Keith Edwards)


Selected publications


Hájek, T., & Urbanová, Z. (2024). Enzyme adaptation in Sphagnum peatlands questions the significance of dissolved organic matter in enzyme inhibition. Science of The Total Environment, 911, 168685. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.168685

Lampela, M., Minkkinen, K., Straková, P., Bhuiyan, R., He, W., Mäkiranta, P., Ojanen, P., Penttilä, T., & Laiho, R. (2023). Responses of fine-root biomass and production to drying depend on wetness and site nutrient regime in boreal forested peatland. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change, 6, 1190893. https://doi.org/10.3389/ffgc.2023.1190893

Edwards, K. R., Bárta, J., Mastný, J., & Picek, T. (2023). Multiple environmental factors, but not nutrient addition, directly affect wet grassland soil microbial community structure: a mesocosm study. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 99(7), fiad070. https://doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiad070

Bhuiyan, R., Mäkiranta, P., Straková, P., Fritze, H., Minkkinen, K., Penttilä, T., Rajala, T., Tuittila, E. -S., & Laiho, R. (2023). Fine-root biomass production and its contribution to organic matter accumulation in sedge fens under changing climate. Science of The Total Environment, 858, 159683. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159683

Watmough, S., Gilbert-Parkes, S., Basiliko, N., Lamit, L. J., Lilleskov, E. A., Andersen, R., del Aguila-Pasquel, J., Artz, R. E., Benscoter, B. W., Borken, W., Bragazza, L., Brandt, S. M., Bräuer, S. L., Carson, M. A., Chen, X., Chimner, R. A., Clarkson, B. R., Cobb, A. R., Enriquez, A. S.,… Urbanová, Z., et al. (2022). Variation in carbon and nitrogen concentrations among peatland categories at the global scale. PLOS ONE, 17(11), e0275149. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0275149

Verbeke, B. A., Lamit, L. J., Lilleskov, E. A., Hodgkins, S. B., Basiliko, N., Kane, E. S., Andersen, R., Artz, R. R. E., Benavides, J. C., Benscoter, B. W., Borken, W., Bragazza, L., Brandt, S. M., Bräuer, S. L., Carson, M. A., Charman, D., Chen, X., Clarkson, B. R., Cobb, A. R. ,… Urbanová, Z., et al. (2022). Latitude, Elevation, and Mean Annual Temperature Predict Peat Organic Matter Chemistry at a Global Scale. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, 36(2), e2021GB007057. https://doi.org/10.1029/2021GB007057

Mastný, J., Bárta, J., Kaštovská, E., & Picek, T. (2021). Decomposition of peatland DOC affected by root exudates is driven by specific r and K strategic bacterial taxa. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 18677. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-97698-2

Urbanová, Z., & Hájek, T. (2021). Revisiting the concept of ‘enzymic latch’ on carbon in peatlands. Science of The Total Environment, 779, 146384. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146384

Straková, P., Larmola, T., Andrés, J., Ilola, N., Launiainen, P., Edwards, K., Minkkinen, K., & Laiho, R. (2020). Quantification of Plant Root Species Composition in Peatlands Using FTIR Spectroscopy. Frontiers in Plant Science, 11, 597. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpls.2020.00597

Hájek, T. (2020). Interlinking moss functional traits. A commentary on: ‘Mechanisms behind species-specific water economy responses to water level drawdown in peat mosses’. Annals of Botany, 126(2), iv-v. https://doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcaa108

Vicherová, E., Glinwood, R., Hájek, T., Šmilauer, P., & Ninkovic, V. (2020). Bryophytes can recognize their neighbours through volatile organic compounds. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 7405. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-64108-y

Tveit, A. T., Kiss, A., Winkel, M., Horn, F., Hájek, T., Svenning, M. M., Wagner, D., & Liebner, S. (2020). Environmental patterns of brown moss- and Sphagnum-associated microbial communities. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 22412. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-79773-2

Edwards, K. R., & Čížková, H. (2020). Nutrient Inputs and Hydrology Interact with Plant Functional Type in Affecting Plant Production and Nutrient Contents in a Wet Grassland. Wetlands, 40(4), 707-719. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-019-01216-0

Urbanová, Z., & Bárta, J. (2020). Recovery of methanogenic community and its activity in long-term drained peatlands after rewetting. Ecological Engineering, 150, 105852. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoleng.2020.105852


Edwards, K. R., & Kučera, T. (2019). Management effects on plant species composition and ecosystem processes and services in a nutrient-poor wet grassland. Plant Ecology, 220(11), 1009-1020. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11258-019-00970-9

Chroňáková, A., Bárta, J., Kaštovská, E., Urbanová, Z., & Picek, T. (2019). Spatial heterogeneity of belowground microbial communities linked to peatland microhabitats with different plant dominants. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 95(9), fiz130. https://doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiz130

Kotas, P., Edwards, K., Jandová, K., & Kaštovská, E. (2019). Interaction of fertilization and soil water status determine C partitioning in a sedge wetland. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 135, 85-94. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soilbio.2019.03.031

Bengtsson, F., Rydin, H., & Hájek, T. (2018). Biochemical determinants of litter quality in 15 species of Sphagnum. Plant and Soil, 425(1-2), 161-176. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-018-3579-8

Kaštovská, E., Straková, P., Edwards, K., Urbanová, Z., Bárta, J., Mastný, J., Šantrůčková, H., & Picek, T. (2018). Cotton-Grass and Blueberry have Opposite Effect on Peat Characteristics and Nutrient Transformation in Peatland. Ecosystems, 21(3), 443-458. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10021-017-0159-3

Urbanová, Z., Straková, P., & Kaštovská, E. (2018). Response of peat biogeochemistry and soil organic matter quality to rewetting in bogs and spruce swamp forests. European Journal of Soil Biology, 85, 12-22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejsobi.2017.12.004

Edwards, K. R., Kaštovská, E., Borovec, J., Šantrůčková, H., & Picek, T. (2018). Species effects and seasonal trends on plant efflux quantity and quality in a spruce swamp forest. Plant and Soil, 426(1-2), 179-196. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-018-3610-0

Korrensalo, A., Alekseychik, P., Hájek, T., Rinne, J., Vesala, T., Mehtätalo, L., Mammarella, I., & Tuittila, E. -S. (2017). Species-specific temporal variation in photosynthesis as a moderator of peatland carbon sequestration. Biogeosciences, 14(2), 257-269. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-14-257-2017

Vicherová, E., Hájek, M., Šmilauer, P., & Hájek, T. (2017). Sphagnum establishment in alkaline fens: Importance of weather and water chemistry. Science of The Total Environment, 580, 1429-1438. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.12.109

Plesková, Z., Jiroušek, M., Peterka, T., Hájek, T., Dítě, D., Hájková, P., Navrátilová, J., Šímová, A., Syrovátka, V., Hájek, M., & Wildi, O. (2016). Testing inter‐regional variation in pH niches of fen mosses. Journal of Vegetation Science, 27(2), 352-364. https://doi.org/10.1111/jvs.12348

Korrensalo, A., Hájek, T., Vesala, T., Mehtätalo, L., & Tuittila, E. -S. (2016). Variation in photosynthetic properties among bog plants. Botany, 94(12), 1127-1139. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjb-2016-0117

Kaštovská, E., Edwards, K., Picek, T., & Šantrůčková, H. (2015). A larger investment into exudation by competitive versus conservative plants is connected to more coupled plant–microbe N cycling. Biogeochemistry, 122(1), 47-59. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10533-014-0028-5

Vicherová, E., Hájek, M., & Hájek, T. (2015). Calcium intolerance of fen mosses: Physiological evidence, effects of nutrient availability and successional drivers. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 17(5), 347-359. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ppees.2015.06.005

Edwards, K. R. (2015). Effect of nutrient additions and site hydrology on belowground production and root nutrient contents in two wet grasslands. Ecological Engineering, 84, 325-335. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecoleng.2015.09.034

Hájek, M., Jiroušek, M., Navrátilová, J., Horodyská, E., Peterka, T., Plesková, Z., Navrátil, J., Hájková, P., & Hájek, T. (2015). Changes in the moss layer of Czech fens indicate early succession triggered by nutrient enrichment. Preslia, 87(2), 279-301.

Mikulášková, E., Hájek, M., Veleba, A., Johnson, M. G., Hájek, T., & Shaw, J. A. (2015). Local adaptations in bryophytes revisited: the genetic structure of the calcium‐tolerant peatmoss Sphagnum warnstorfii along geographic and pH gradients. Ecology and Evolution, 5(1), 229-242. https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.1351

Edwards, K. R., Picek, T., Čížková, H., Máchalová Zemanová, K., & Stará, A. (2015). Nutrient Addition Effects on Carbon Fluxes in Wet Grasslands With Either Organic or Mineral Soil. Wetlands, 35(1), 55-68. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13157-014-0592-4

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