In order to standardise data collection across tropical peatland sites, to ease the process of generating more information about these ecosystems and to encourage collaboration, we publish/summarise here a set of protocols.

If you’d like to know more about a protocol, drop the relevant technical contact a line.  And please remember to reference the protocol as detailed, if you are going to describe it in a publication.  Thank you!


Key reference: Phillips OL, Baker TR, Feldpausch T, Brienen R (2009) RAINFOR
field manual for plot establishment and remeasurement.

Contact: A list of RAINFOR’s project partners can be found here

In our recent review article (Lawson et al., 2015), we argued that existing standard protocols developed for terra firme forests are also applicable to peatland forests. In particular, we refer those wishing to undertake plot-based measurements of above-ground biomass to the RAINFOR field manual. Using consistent protocols between terra firme and peatland forests allows useful comparisons to be made between these differing ecosystems.

Roucoux et al. (2013) applied some modifications to this procedure because
peatland vegetation is frequently dominated by plants that are usually regarded as negligible in a standard forest census, for example, thin-trunked trees with
diameter at breast height (DBH) <10 cm (the cut-off used in most AGB inventories), or grasses and sedges. At Quistococha (Peru), Roucoux et al. (2013) used a nested sampling design to record small trees with DBH between 2.5 and 10 cm in a
series of sub-plots within their main census plot.

We recommend reading page 11 of  Lawson et al. (2015) for a fuller discussion.

Peat Carbon content

Key reference: Chambers FM, Beilman DW, Yu Z (2011) Methods for determining
peat humification and for quantifying peat bulk density, organic matter and carbon content for palaeostudies of climate and peatland carbon dynamics. Mires
and Peat 7, Art. 7. 

Peat C content is often not directly measured, but instead is estimated using techniques such as loss-on-ignition, which provides a measurement of the proportion of organic matter in a sample. Carbon concentration is then be estimated by assuming that the organic material contains a certain proportion of carbon (e.g. 50 wt% C).

However, our analysis in Lawson et al. showed that this can underestimate the amount of carbon in peats with high loss-on-ignition values. We therefore recommend that where possible peat C content is measured using elemental analysis.

We recommend reading page 11 and 12 of Lawson et al. (2015) for a fuller discussion.

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