, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 621-633

Vegetation Dynamics on an Abandoned Vacuum-Mined Peatland: 5 Years of Monitoring

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Abstract

We studied from 1998 to 2002 the fine-scale vegetation dynamics of a poorly regenerated vacuum-mined bog located in southern Quebec. We selected mined sites that have been abandoned for 14 years and monitored the vascular and non-vascular plants, and some hydrological characteristics. We focussed our study on the monitoring of cotton-grass (Eriophorum vaginatum L.) tussocks. Major changes in the plant cover were observed during the five-year period, such as a decrease (26–31%) in the number of cotton-grass tussocks and an increase in the ericaceous shrub cover. The water table level (lower than 40 cm below the soil surface) and frost heaving appear to be the main factors explaining the failure of cotton-grass and of other typical bog plant species to colonize abandoned mined surfaces. The ericaceous shrub cover, although increasing, was still sparse even after two decades of abandonment, and it may take several additional decades before a complete shrub cover establishes itself. While the natural revegetation process of this vacuum-mined bog is still dynamic after two decades of abandonment, there is no evidence to suggest that vegetation assemblages will eventually resemble those of undisturbed peatlands.