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The life and afterlife of bog-moss: why it matters

The Valedictory Lecture of R.S. 'Dicky' Clymo

1. In life, the bog moss (Sphagnum) covers about 3 % of the Earth’s land surface, and is far and away the most successful and important moss. Why? It flourishes on starvation rations of nitrogen and phosphorus, thrives with its feet in water, and makes that water acid. This unique combination of abilities enables it to exclude most other plants.

2. In death, the moss decays unusually slowly and its remains are the main constituents of peat, which has been accumulating in the current interglacial period for 5000 to 10 000 years. There is about as much carbon locked up in peat as there is in the atmosphere. Peat forms about 1/4 of all the organic carbon on the Earth’s land surface (in trees, grasslands, soils, and peat). What happens as global temperatures rise is an important question.


Professor R.S. 'Dicky' Clymo | talks


Date and Time:

12 November 2016 at 6:30 pm


1 hour



PP1, The People's Palace
Queen Mary University of London
327 Mile End Road
E1 4NS

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Organised by:

Events Office, Queen Mary University of London
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Additional Information:

For further information contact: b.prescott@qmul.ac.uk or visit http://www.qmul.ac.uk/events/meetprofessors/

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