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Organic matter dynamics in tropical peatlands (Diamantina, Brasil) - development of molecular proxies to reconstruct environmental changes

Grant number: 13/03953-9
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2014
Effective date (End): April 15, 2017
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Agronomy - Soil Science
Principal researcher:Pablo Vidal Torrado
Grantee:Judith Schellekens
Home Institution: Escola Superior de Agricultura Luiz de Queiroz (ESALQ). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Piracicaba , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):16/03337-4 - Understanding long-term degradation of black carbon - combining PY-GC/MS and THM-TMAH to develop molecular degradation proxies, BE.EP.PD


In order to predict future climate changes data on past changes are essential. The well preserved stratigraphy of peat deposits can be used to reconstruct past environmental conditions. The molecular composition of organic matter (OM) in peatlands, soils and sediments supplies information on the botanical sources (plant identity) and on the extent of decomposition during litter decay. Therefore, the molecular composition of OM is often used as a proxy for past environmental conditions, or to obtain information on the rate of carbon sequestration that is a crucial element in the global carbon cycle. Both vegetation composition and the degree of decomposition of its remains are determined by depth and fluctuation of the water table. Until present there is a large deficiency in studies which combine vegetation and decomposition characteristics to investigate OM dynamics in peatlands, and most research is concentrated on boreal and temperate peatlands, while tropical peatland ecosystems remain largely unexplored. A combination of OM proxies is essential for a solid palaeohydrological interpretation of a peat deposit, because the distribution of plant species and decomposition of their remains in peat are closely associated. Characterisation of peat by pyrolysis gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (pyrolysis-GC/MS) provides detailed information on its molecular composition. This project aims to use this molecular signature to develop chemical parameters for a palaeohydrological interpretation of tropical peat deposits (Diamantina, Brasil). Furthermore, we will examine the interaction between vegetation composition and decomposition processes, and its effects on the OM composition in tropical peat. Finally, data from the molecular chemistry will be compared with independent climate proxies obtained from the same samples.

Scientific publications (13)
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
MARIANE CHIAPINI; JAIRO CALDERARI DE OLIVEIRA JUNIOR; JUDITH SCHELLEKENS; JAIME ANTONIO DE ALMEIDA; PETER BUURMAN; PABLO VIDAL-TORRADO. Sombric-like horizon and xanthization in polychrome subtropical soils from Southern Brazil: implications for soil classification. Scientia Agricola, v. 78, n. 4, p. -, 2021. Web of Science Citations: 0.
LOPES-MAZZETTO, JOSIANE MILLANI; SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; VIDAL-TORRADO, PABLO; BUURMAN, PETER. Impact of drainage and soil hydrology on sources and degradation of organic matter in tropical coastal podzols. Geoderma, v. 330, p. 79-90, NOV 15 2018. Web of Science Citations: 2.
CHIAPINI, MARIANE; SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; CALEGARI, MARCIA REGINA; DE ALMEIDA, JAIME ANTONIO; BUURMAN, PETER; DE CAMARGO, PLINIO BARBOSA; VIDAL-TORRADO, PABLO. Formation of black carbon rich `sombric' horizons in the subsoil - A case study from subtropical Brazil. Geoderma, v. 314, p. 232-244, MAR 15 2018. Web of Science Citations: 3.
SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; SILVA, CARLOS ALBERTO; BUURMAN, PETER; RITTL, TATIANA F.; DOMINGUES, RIMENA R.; JUSTI, MARINA; VIDAL-TORRADO, PABLO; TRUGILHO, PAULO FERNANDO. Molecular characterization of biochar from five Brazilian agricultural residues obtained at different charring temperatures. JOURNAL OF ANALYTICAL AND APPLIED PYROLYSIS, v. 130, p. 106-117, MAR 2018. Web of Science Citations: 2.
JUSTI, MARINA; SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; DE CAMARGO, PLINIO BARBOSA; VIDAL-TORRADO, PABLO. Long-term degradation effect on the molecular composition of black carbon in Brazilian Cerrado soils. Organic Geochemistry, v. 113, p. 196-209, NOV 2017. Web of Science Citations: 6.
SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; ALMEIDA-SANTOS, TAIS; MACEDO, RODRIGO SANTANA; BUURMAN, PETER; KUYPER, THOMAS W.; VIDAL-TORRADO, PABLO. Molecular composition of several soil organic matter fractions from anthropogenic black soils (Terra Preta de Indio) in Amazonia - A pyrolysis-GC/MS study. Geoderma, v. 288, p. 154-165, FEB 15 2017. Web of Science Citations: 20.
SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; BUURMAN, PETER; KALBITZ, KARSTEN; VAN ZOMEREN, ANDRE; VIDAL-TORRADO, PABLO; CERLI, CHIARA; COMANS, ROB N. J. Molecular Features of Humic Acids and Fulvic Acids from Contrasting Environments. Environmental Science & Technology, v. 51, n. 3, p. 1330-1339, FEB 7 2017. Web of Science Citations: 14.
DA SILVA OLIVEIRA, DENER MARCIO; SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; PELLEGRINO CERRI, CARLOS EDUARDO. Molecular characterization of soil organic matter from native vegetation-pasture-sugarcane transitions in Brazil. Science of The Total Environment, v. 548, p. 450-462, APR 1 2016. Web of Science Citations: 10.
SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; BRADLEY, JONATHAN A.; KUYPER, THOMAS W.; FRAGA, ISABEL; PONTEVEDRA-POMBAL, XABIER; VIDAL-TORRADO, PABLO; ABBOTT, GEOFFREY D.; BUURMAN, PETER. The use of plant-specific pyrolysis products as biomarkers in peat deposits. QUATERNARY SCIENCE REVIEWS, v. 123, p. 254-264, SEP 1 2015. Web of Science Citations: 12.
MARQUES, FLAVIO ADRIANO; BUURMAN, PETER; SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; VIDAL-TORRADO, PABLO. Molecular chemistry in humic Ferralsols from Brazilian Cerrado and forest biomes indicates a major contribution from black carbon in the subsoil. JOURNAL OF ANALYTICAL AND APPLIED PYROLYSIS, v. 113, p. 518-528, MAY 2015. Web of Science Citations: 10.
SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; BINDLER, RICHARD; MARTINEZ-CORTIZAS, ANTONIO; MCCLYMONT, ERIN L.; ABBOTT, GEOFFREY D.; BIESTER, HARALD; PONTEVEDRA-POMBAL, XABIER; BUURMAN, PETER. Preferential degradation of polyphenols from Sphagnum-4-Isopropenylphenol as a proxy for past hydrological conditions in Sphagnum-dominated peat. GEOCHIMICA ET COSMOCHIMICA ACTA, v. 150, p. 74-89, FEB 1 2015. Web of Science Citations: 18.
SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; BUURMAN, PETER; KUYPER, THOMAS W.; ABBOTT, GEOFFREY D.; PONTEVEDRA-POMBAL, XABIER; MARTINEZ-CORTIZAS, ANTONIO. Influence of source vegetation and redox conditions on lignin-based decomposition proxies in graminoid-dominated ombrotrophic peat (Penido Vello, NW Spain). Geoderma, v. 237, p. 270-282, JAN 2015. Web of Science Citations: 17.
SCHELLEKENS, JUDITH; HORAK-TERRA, INGRID; BUURMAN, PETER; SILVA, ALEXANDRE CHRISTOFARO; VIDAL-TORRADO, PABLO. Holocene vegetation and fire dynamics in central-eastern Brazil: Molecular records from the Pau de Fruta peatland. Organic Geochemistry, v. 77, p. 32-42, DEC 2014. Web of Science Citations: 9.

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