Wetlands Ecology and Management

, Volume 11, Issue 1–2, pp 85–95 | Cite as

Sphagnum production and decomposition in a restored cutover peatland

  • J.M. Waddington
  • L. Rochefort
  • S. Campeau


Natural peatlands represent a long-termsink of atmospheric carbon dioxide(CO2), however, drained and extractedpeatlands can represent a source ofatmospheric CO2. The restoration ofSphagnum mosses on abandoned milledpeatlands has the potential to sequesteratmospheric CO2 thereby returning thepeatland to a peat accumulating system.Micrometeorological and chambermeasurements of net ecosystem CO2exchange are proven methods forinvestigating production and decompositionprocesses in both natural, extracted, andrestored peatlands. However, this approachis relatively expensive because ofinfrastructure and human resources that notonly limits potential use for ecologicalmanagers but it limits the number of sitesthat can be monitored due to high spatialvariability. Here we present crank wire anddestructive sampling productionmeasurements, litter bag decompositionmeasurements and measurements of netecosystem CO2 exchange made in arestored peatland and natural peatlandsites nearby. The objectives were to assessproduction and decomposition rates in thetwo systems as well as to compare thedifferent measurements techniques.Estimates of Sphagnum fuscumproduction at a restored peatland, usingthe different methods, followed the trend:crank wire < destructive sampling < gasexchange, with the two last methodsproviding comparable estimates. Productionestimates using crank wires in cutover peatsurfaces with a thin newly formed Sphagnum mat were shown unreliable due topeat subsidence. Results using thedestructive sampling method suggest thatSphagnum production varies betweenspecies (S. fuscum > S.capillifolium) according to their abilityto withstand harsh conditions on restoredpeat surfaces. Decomposition rate was alsosignificantly greater (p<0.05) for S. capillifolium than S. fuscum,resulting in an overall plant accumulationgreater for S. fuscum. Although therestored surfaces were fairly young,production rates estimated on cutoversurfaces that were fully covered with athin Sphagnum mat compared withproduction rates observed in natural sitesnearby.

carbon dioxide mire ecosystem functions restoration sampling techniques 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • J.M. Waddington
    • 1
  • L. Rochefort
    • 2
  • S. Campeau
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Geography and GeologyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Groupe de Recherche en Écologie des Tourbières, and Centre d'Études NordiquesUniversité LavalQuébecCanada

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