Delimination of the aerobic peat layer in a Sphagnum mire on the southern Alps
The hydrology of a Sphagnum mire in the southern Alps was studied during the 1991 growing season by measuring at regular intervals the depth to the water table in a number of water gauges. The thickness of the acrotelm was defined as the greatest depth to the water table measured during that season. The thickness of the aerobic layer was defined based on the change of colour of the water gauges which were withdrawn horn the peat body five years later. The acrotelm consists of two layers : an upper aerobic layer and a lower anaerobic layer. The best indicators of the thickness of the aerobic layer are the smallest water-table depth at dry microsites and the greatest water-table depth at low microsites, while the median depth to the water table is the best indicator when comparisons are to be extended over a broad lange of microsites. The thickness of the acrotelm and the thickness of the aerobic layer decrease from dry to wet sites, but the differences between them are not constant along the water-table gradient, being wider the higher are the microsites.
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