, Volume 674, Issue 1, pp 25–40 | Cite as

The effect of flooding on carbon and nutrient standing stocks of helophyte biomass in rewetted fens

  • Karsten SchulzEmail author
  • Tiemo Timmermann
  • Peggy Steffenhagen
  • Stefan Zerbe
  • Michael Succow


Rewetting can strongly affect the matter balance of peatlands. Owing to evidence of increasing CH4 emissions and P mobilisation after rewetting, the effects of peatland restoration on climate, eutrophication risks and related controversies are discussed. Our study focuses on the role of helophytes in the carbon and nutrient balance of rewetted fen grasslands of NE Germany. We hypothesise that the helophytes Carex riparia, Glyceria maxima, Phalaris arundinacea, Phragmites australis and Typha latifolia differ in biomass production and nutrient standing stock according to site conditions and harvest time. We analysed the helophyte biomass three times a year and continuously measured water levels and quality. Biomass production, nutrient standing stock and litter accumulation were highly species specific and depended on nutrient availability, mean water levels and harvesting time. We conclude that helophytes store considerable amounts of carbon and temporarily improve the water quality by withdrawing high amounts of nutrients from the top soil during the growing season, and by reducing nutrient discharges. Restoring peatlands as effective nutrient and carbon sinks in the landscape should favour highly productive potentially peat-forming helophytes as Phragmites australis by establishing adequate water levels. If nutrients are to be removed from the degraded peatland, then management can combine the restoration of helophyte stands by rewetting with harvesting measures.


Helophyte biomass Mire restoration Peatland rewetting Nutrient balance Phragmites australis Water level 



We thank Stefanie Ziegler and Ulrich Moebius for supporting the laboratory work. We also would like to thank the two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments, and our native speaker Georgia Fitzpatrick for the improvement of language and expression. This study was supported by the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Landesgraduiertenstipendium, Project-Nr. 230-5325.60-7-57), and the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (Project-Nr. 25165-35/0).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karsten Schulz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tiemo Timmermann
    • 1
  • Peggy Steffenhagen
    • 2
  • Stefan Zerbe
    • 3
  • Michael Succow
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Botany and Landscape EcologyUniversity of GreifswaldGreifswaldGermany
  2. 2.LUP—Luftbild Umwelt Planung GmbHPotsdamGermany
  3. 3.Faculty of Science and TechnologyFree University of Bozen-BolzanoBolzanoItaly
  4. 4.Michael Succow FoundationInstitute of Botany and Landscape EcologyGreifswaldGermany

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