New Zealand is another country with its fair share of bogs, but they tend to be quite different to those found in much of the Northern Hemisphere, being formed from different plant species. In the Northern Hemisphere, we work mainly on bogs formed by the moss Sphagnum, whereas in New Zealand Sphagnum is much less common and bogs are often formed predominantly of rushes of the family Restionaceae. This gives the bogs quite a different look and feel, but also has important scientific consequences too.
Matt is currently involved in a project which seeks to understand if stable isotope analysis, which is commonly applied to and reasonably well understood in Northern Sphagnum bogs can also be applied in New Zealand’s restiad bogs and used as a proxy for past precipitation. Stable isotope analysis has the potential to record both a record of past hydrological conditions (carbon) and also provide a signature for the source of past precipitation (oxygen). Both of these aspects would be very useful to ongoing research in New Zealand, where the climate is strongly influenced by the interplay between tropical influences from the north and the force of the Southern Westerly winds that come off the Southern Ocean in the south. You can read several of Matt’s blogs on the project and the tale of his fieldwork there in November 2012 on the Our Future website, run by Landcare, a government research institute in New Zealand.