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Sphagnum re-introduction in degraded peatlands: The effects of aggregation, species identity and water table

Sphagnum re-introduction in degraded peatlands: The effects of aggregation, species identity and water table
Sphagnum re-introduction in degraded peatlands: The effects of aggregation, species identity and water table

In European peatlands which have been drained and cut-over in the past, re-vegetation often stagnates after the return of a species-poor Sphagnum community. Re-introduction of currently absent species may be a useful tool to restore a typical, and more diverse, Sphagnum vegetation and may ultimately improve the functioning of peatland ecosystems, regarding atmospheric carbon sequestration. Yet, the factors controlling the success of re-introduction are unclear. In Ireland and Estonia, we transplanted small and large aggregates of three Sphagnum species into existing vegetation. We recorded changes in cover over a 3-year period, at two water levels (-5 and -20 cm). Performance of transplanted aggregates of Sphagnum was highly species specific. Hummock species profited at low water tables, whereas hollow species profited at high water tables. But our results indicate that performance and establishment of species was also promoted by increased aggregate size. This mechanism (positive self-association) has earlier been seen in other ecosystems, but our results are the first to show this mechanism in peatlands. Our results do not agree with present management, which is aimed at retaining water on the surface of peat remnants in order to restore a functional and diverse Sphagnum community. More than the water table, aggregate size of the reintroduced species is crucial for species performance, and ultimately for successful peatland restoration.

Anisotropy, Biodiversity, Ecological restoration, Interspecific variation, Manipulation of succession, Patch size, Plant diversity, Raised bog, Single-source introductions, Sphagnum-dominated peatlands
1439-1791
697-706
Robroek, Bjorn J.M.
06dcb269-687c-41db-ab73-f61899617f92
van Ruijven, Jasper
83984788-55b3-42a9-a16d-3f7e47999569
Schouten, Matthijs G C
b956b925-4c42-4725-b3e9-f2d44bd50e93
Breeuwer, Angela
50f6b3a4-6839-4420-bc17-a1b08a81cad5
Crushell, Patrick H.
215c3511-ab8c-4317-b01d-8c2b6b64c617
Berendse, Frank
93c8d1e5-65ee-45ae-80d0-8e42e08ad007
Limpens, Juul
5000684f-2c46-4ac5-bc49-c4df4fa4da4a
Robroek, Bjorn J.M.
06dcb269-687c-41db-ab73-f61899617f92
van Ruijven, Jasper
83984788-55b3-42a9-a16d-3f7e47999569
Schouten, Matthijs G C
b956b925-4c42-4725-b3e9-f2d44bd50e93
Breeuwer, Angela
50f6b3a4-6839-4420-bc17-a1b08a81cad5
Crushell, Patrick H.
215c3511-ab8c-4317-b01d-8c2b6b64c617
Berendse, Frank
93c8d1e5-65ee-45ae-80d0-8e42e08ad007
Limpens, Juul
5000684f-2c46-4ac5-bc49-c4df4fa4da4a

Robroek, Bjorn J.M., van Ruijven, Jasper, Schouten, Matthijs G C, Breeuwer, Angela, Crushell, Patrick H., Berendse, Frank and Limpens, Juul (2009) Sphagnum re-introduction in degraded peatlands: The effects of aggregation, species identity and water table. Basic and Applied Ecology, 10 (8), 697-706. (doi:10.1016/j.baae.2009.04.005).

Record type: Article

Abstract

In European peatlands which have been drained and cut-over in the past, re-vegetation often stagnates after the return of a species-poor Sphagnum community. Re-introduction of currently absent species may be a useful tool to restore a typical, and more diverse, Sphagnum vegetation and may ultimately improve the functioning of peatland ecosystems, regarding atmospheric carbon sequestration. Yet, the factors controlling the success of re-introduction are unclear. In Ireland and Estonia, we transplanted small and large aggregates of three Sphagnum species into existing vegetation. We recorded changes in cover over a 3-year period, at two water levels (-5 and -20 cm). Performance of transplanted aggregates of Sphagnum was highly species specific. Hummock species profited at low water tables, whereas hollow species profited at high water tables. But our results indicate that performance and establishment of species was also promoted by increased aggregate size. This mechanism (positive self-association) has earlier been seen in other ecosystems, but our results are the first to show this mechanism in peatlands. Our results do not agree with present management, which is aimed at retaining water on the surface of peat remnants in order to restore a functional and diverse Sphagnum community. More than the water table, aggregate size of the reintroduced species is crucial for species performance, and ultimately for successful peatland restoration.

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More information

Published date: December 2009
Keywords: Anisotropy, Biodiversity, Ecological restoration, Interspecific variation, Manipulation of succession, Patch size, Plant diversity, Raised bog, Single-source introductions, Sphagnum-dominated peatlands

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 413683
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/413683
ISSN: 1439-1791
PURE UUID: 4fd5f42d-fffd-482a-9b08-9ca033d1c49e
ORCID for Bjorn J.M. Robroek: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6714-0652

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 31 Aug 2017 16:31
Last modified: 20 Jul 2019 00:27

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