Is rewetting enough to recover Sphagnum and associated peat-accumulating species in traditionally exploited bogs?

Authors: González, Eduardo; Henstra, S. W.; Rochefort, Line; Bradfield, Gary; Poulin, Monique
Abstract: When restoring ecosystems, the simple removal of stresses causing degradation may seem preferable over other more costly and time consuming approaches. However, some restoration techniques can be implemented at reasonable cost and with increased efficiency in certain cases. We examined the successional trajectories of vegetation within abandoned block-cut peatlands in a major peat-producing region of Eastern Canada to evaluate whether the use of rewetting as a restoration technique can assist in the recovery of a typical bog plant community dominated by Sphagnum compared to spontaneous recolonization alone. We surveyed a total of 55 trenches in 6 peatlands twice, ~25 and ~35 years after the cessation of peat extraction. Canonical ordinations evidenced a generalized process of afforestation during the decade studied, partially driven by agricultural drainage in the surrounding landscape. Plant communities were dominated by ericaceous shrubs that hampered the spontaneous recovery of a Sphagnum-dominated system typical of bogs in the short and medium-term. Three of the six peatlands surveyed were partially restored by blocking drainage ditches. There, we surveyed plant composition in rewetted (28) and non-rewetted (26) trenches and observed that rewetting mitigated the increase in tree dominance, decreased the dominance by ericaceous shrubs, and favored the spread of non-vascular species with a wet habitat preference (notably Sphagnum species from the Cuspidata section). We conclude that the use of low intervention restoration techniques in block-cut bogs, such as the blockage of former drainage ditches, can re-orient undesired vegetation trajectories driven by spontaneous recolonization alone.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 1 February 2014
Open Access Date: 7 July 2016
Document version: AM
This document was published in: Wetlands Ecology and Management, Vol. 22 (1), 49–62 (2014)
Kluwer Academic
Alternative version: 10.1007/s11273-013-9322-6
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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