Sphagnum establishment on bare peat: The importance of climatic variability and Sphagnum species richness

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Abstract:

Question: What is the relative ability of four species of Sphagnum (S. fuscum, S. rubellum, S. magellanicum and S. angustifolium) to establish on bare peat substratum in the field when re-introduced as single or multi-species re-introductions and in relation to interannual variations in climate?

Location: Continental southeastern Canada.

Methods: Diaspores (fragments) of four Sphagnum species alone or in combination were re-introduced onto residual peat surfaces and were monitored to follow the development of the moss carpet over four growing seasons. In order to compare results under a variety of climatic conditions, this whole experimental setting was repeated four times (trials), with a four-year follow-up for each trial.

Conclusions: The establishment rate of the moss carpet varied among years, in response to climatic variations between growing seasons. The relative success of different moss species and combinations of species, however, did not vary within or between trials. Thus, the species and combinations of species resulting in the highest short-term or long-term establishment rates remained the same for all trials, independent of the climatic conditions at the time of re-introduction. Our results showed no link between the number of species in the diaspore mixture and successful establishment of the moss carpet. Yet successful regeneration was clearly influenced by the identity of species chosen for re-introduction. S. fuscum, alone or in combination, was the species found to lead to the most extensive development of the moss carpet under the current test conditions.

Keywords: BOG; CUT-OVER PEATLAND; DAMAGED MIRE; ECOLOGICAL RESTORATION; MULTI-SPECIES CARPET; PEATLAND; PLANT RE-INTRODUCTION; SINGLE-SPECIES CARPET; SPHAGNUM FUSCUM

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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