Peatland carbon stocks and accumulation rates in the Ecuadorian páramo

John A. Hribljan, Esteban Suárez, Katherine A. Heckman, Erik A. Lilleskov, Rodney A. Chimner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


The páramo is a high altitude tropical Andean ecosystem that contains peatlands with thick horizons of carbon (C) dense soils. Soil C data are sparse for most of the páramo, especially in peatlands, which limits our ability to provide accurate regional and country wide estimates of C storage. Therefore, the objective of our research was to quantify belowground C stocks and accumulation rates in páramo peatland soils in two regions of northeastern Ecuador. Peatland soil cores were collected from Antisana Ecological Reserve and Cayambe-Coca National Park. We measured soil C densities and 14C dates to estimate soil accumulation rates. The mean peatland soil depth across both regions was 3.8 m and contained an estimated mean C storage of 1282 Mg ha−1. Peatlands older than 3000 cal. year BP had a mean long-term C accumulation rate of 26 g m−2 year−1, with peatlands younger than 500 cal. year BP displaying mean recent rates of C accumulation of 134 g m−2 year−1. These peatlands also receive large inputs of mineral material, predominantly from volcanic deposition, that has created many interbedded non-peat mineral soil horizons that contained 48 % of the soil C. Because of large C stocks in Ecuadorian mountain peatlands and the potential disturbance from land use and climate change, additional studies are need to provide essential baseline assessments and estimates of C storage in the Andes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-127
Number of pages15
JournalWetlands Ecology and Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Accumulation rates
  • Carbon
  • Peatland
  • Páramo
  • Tuberas


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