Yiming Zhang

Visiting Postgraduate Student


I graduated from China University of Geosciences (Wuhan) in 2015 with a BSc in geology. My final year research project, ‘Impact of early diagenesis on distributions of Sphagnum n-alkanes in peatlands of the monsoon region of China’ was conducted under the supervision of Professor Xianyu Huang.

In my master’s research from 2015 to 2017, supervised by Professor Xianyu Huang and Professor Shucheng Xie, I undertook seasonal environmental monitoring in Chinese subtropical peatlands and used GC-MS and GC-C/TC-IRMS to study the compound-specific carbon and hydrogen isotope compositions of peat biomarkers.

In September 2017 I started my PhD under the supervision of Professor Shucheng Xie focusing on the interaction between peatland carbon cycle and paleoclimate change. I am currently funded by the China Scholarship Council and doing research at OGU as a visiting PhD student from November 2019 to November 2021 under the supervision of Dr David Naafs, Professor Rich Pancost and Professor Richard Evershed, focusing on compound-specific radiocarbon analysis of different biomarkers in peat.

(Back to top)


Peatlands cover only 3% of the global land area, yet they store about 30% of global soil organic carbon. Pristine peatlands typically act as sinks of carbon dioxide and sources of methane and play an important role in regulating atmospheric greenhouse gas and terrestrial carbon storage. The key to the preservation of a large amount of organic carbon in peat is the inhibition of microbial degradation by low temperature and anaerobic environments. However, peatlands are currently being threatened with global warming and more frequent drought, while human activities, such as the ditch drainage, have also exacerbated water level drawdown. In this case, sleeping microorganisms in peatlands may be triggered. Therefore, it is important to understand microbial biogeochemical processes of peatlands in different climate backgrounds. Lipid biomarkers preserved in peat can not only track paleoclimate and paleoenvironmental changes, their compound-specific carbon isotope composition but also can reveal peat biogeochemical processes, such as methane oxidation. In addition, compound-specific radiocarbon analysis can give the turnover time of different peat lipid biomarkers. This enables us to explore the carbon preservation and conversion of peatlands from a molecular perspective.

(Back to top)


5. Chen, L., Zhou, W., Zhang, Y., Zheng, Y., Huang, X., 2019. Postglacial floral and climate changes in southeastern China recorded by distributions of n-alkan-2-ones in the Dahu sediment-peat sequence. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 538, 109448. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2019.109448

4. Zhao, B., Zhang, Y., Huang, X., Qiu, R., Zhang, Z., Meyers, P.A., 2018. Comparison of n-alkane molecular, carbon and hydrogen isotope compositions of different types of plants in the Dajiuhu peatland, central China. Organic Geochemistry, 124, 1-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orggeochem.2018.07.008

3. Chen, S., Hong, H., Huang, X., Fang, Q., Wang, C., Zhang, Y., Cheng, L., Algeo, T.J., 2018. The role of organo-clay associations in limiting organic matter decay: insights from the Dajiuhu peat soil, central China. Geoderma, 320, 149-160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.01.013

2. Zhang, Y., Zheng, M., Meyers, P.A., Huang, X., 2017. Impact of early diagenesis on distributions of Sphagnum n-alkanes in peatlands of the monsoon region of China. Organic Geochemistry, 105, 13-19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orggeochem.2016.12.007

1. Huang, X., Meyers, P.A., Xue, J., Zhang, Y., Wang, X., 2016. Paleoclimate significance of n-alkane molecular distributions and δ2H values in surface peats across the monsoon region of China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 461, 77-86. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.08.011

(Back to top)

Edit this page