Our PRO Peat Bog and Bog HELPR are respectively funded by the OARDC SEEDS Grant and the Ohio Water Resources Center. They aim to map and understand the current status of Ohio's peat bog ecosystems,
and to identify straightforward indicators of their condition and restoration potential. Peat bogs play diverse
and important roles in our natural environment. In addition to providing specialized habitat for a variety of unique and rare plants and animals (such as carnivorous pitcher plants or prothonotary warblers),
peat bogs provide a range of "ecosystem services" that benefit the State. Although they now cover relatively little of Ohio's land area, their services are disproportionate to their size. They
clean water, help control flooding during high rainfall events, and they store a large amount of below-ground carbon in their peat deposits. This carbon can be lost to the atmosphere as greenhouse gases when the
bogs are degraded (for example due drainage, fire or agricultural conversion). Adding their carbon to the atmosphere could help accelerate climate change potentially threatening these ecosystems even further.
Our projects will study variation in the plant and microbial (e.g. bacteria) communities of Ohio's bogs in relation to the extent of historic degradation. We will relate the composition of these communities to the
rate at which they are producing or storing greenhouse gases. Outcomes of these studies will include: i) updated status of historically-known Ohio peat bogs; ii) an understanding of how plants and
microbes influence interact to influence carbon storage in bogs; and iii) description of indicators of their restoration potential that could be used by managers assessing new sites.