Holocene peatland development and associated carbon (C) dynamics were reconstructed for a southern boreal Finnish peatland complex with fen and bog areas. In order to assess the role of local factors and long-term allogenic climate forcing in peatland development patterns, we studied a total of 18 peat cores and reconstructed vertical peat growth and lateral peat area expansion rates, the C accumulation rate (CAR), past vegetation composition and past methane (CH4) fluxes. We combined fossil plant data with measured contemporary CH4 flux – vegetation relationship data to reconstruct CH4 fluxes over time. When these reconstructions were added to the CAR estimations, a more complete picture of Holocene-scale C dynamics was achieved. Basal peat ages showed that expansion of the peat area was rapid between 11,000 and 8000 cal. BP, but decreased during the dry mid-Holocene and is probably currently limited by basal topography. A similar pattern was observed for peat growth and CAR in the fen core, whereas in the bog core CAR increased after ombrotrophication, i.e. after 4400 cal. BP. The effect of fire on vegetation and CAR was more conspicuous at the bog site than at the fen site. The CH4 flux reconstructions showed that during the Holocene CH4 emissions at the fen site decreased from 19 ± 15 to 16 ± 8 g CH4 m−2 yr−1 and at the bog site from 20 ± 15 to 14 ± 8 g CH4 m−2 yr−1. Our results suggest that a combination of changing climate, fire events and local conditions have modified the autogenic peatland development and C dynamics.
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