Separation of peat layers was on the basis of colour, texture and apparent degree of decomposition. Known volumes of AZD5363 ic50 peat from each horizon were weighed fresh and then dried in an oven for 48 h at 80 °C. Samples were then burnt
in a muffle furnace and the weight of the remaining ash and mineral material recorded both with and without any stones in the sample. Bulk density and fuel moisture content (FMC) were calculated for both the total sample (including stones) and for the organic component calculated after the mass of larger mineral particles had been removed. In this approach ‘organic moisture content’ describes the water content of the peat component which, given the coarse mixing of the peat and mineral material by ploughing, is more relevant for describing the fuel properties. Scatterplots of ground-fuel bulk density versus depth were used to examine patterns in the layering and bulk density of peat cores. We developed a generic profile for the area as a whole by calculating the mean
depth of layers of litter and duff and the mean selleck chemicals llc proportion of the remaining profile accounted for by an upper layer of light brown and relatively fibrous peat containing obvious remains of Eriophorum vaginatum L. and a lower layer of dark-brown to black, well humified peat. Any fuel layers that had been obviously altered by burning were excluded from this analysis. On our second site visit, three transects were located across the burn area ca. 100 m
apart. Each transect was divided into 10 m sections and observations of peat consumption were made at randomly selected distances within each section in order to avoid biasing our measurements to locations close to tree bases. Transects were orientated at right angles to the direction of the plough lines to remove the possibility for bias caused by running transects along mounds or within ditches. At the selected distance within each transect section the depth of the remaining peat (or depth of ash where no peat remained) was measured at three sample points one metre Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterase apart and centred on the selected distance (Fig. 1). The depth of burn was estimated based on the difference in surface height compared to surrounding unconsumed areas, exposed tree roots and the position of upper lateral roots (Fig. 1) in a manner similar to that employed by Kasischke et al. (2008) and Mack et al. (2011). Previous research (Boggie, 1972 and Coutts et al., 1990) has demonstrated that P. sitchensis and P. contorta grown on Scottish peatlands tend to produce shallow root networks and adventitious roots close to the surface making them a reliable marker for estimating depth of consumption.