Vegetation structure and photosynthesis respond rapidly to restoration in young coastal fens

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Laine , A M , Tolvanen , A , Mehtätalo , L & Tuittila , E-S 2016 , ' Vegetation structure and photosynthesis respond rapidly to restoration in young coastal fens ' , Ecology and Evolution , vol. 6 , no. 19 , pp. 6880-6891 .

Title: Vegetation structure and photosynthesis respond rapidly to restoration in young coastal fens
Author: Laine, Anna M.; Tolvanen, Anne; Mehtätalo, Lauri; Tuittila, Eeva-Stiina
Contributor organization: Department of Forest Sciences
Date: 2016-10
Language: eng
Number of pages: 12
Belongs to series: Ecology and Evolution
ISSN: 2045-7758
Abstract: Young coastal fens are rare ecosystems in the first stages of peatland succession. Their drainage compromises their successional development toward future carbon (C) reservoirs. We present the first study on the success of hydrological restoration of young fens. We carried out vegetation surveys at six young fens that represent undrained, drained, and restored management categories in the Finnish land uplift coast before and after restoration. We measured plant level carbon dioxide (CO2) assimilation and chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm) from 17 most common plant species present at the sites. Within 5 years of restoration, the vegetation composition of restored sites had started to move toward the undrained baseline. The cover of sedges increased the most in response to restoration, while the cover of deciduous shrubs decreased the most. The rapid response indicates high resilience and low resistance of young fen ecosystems toward changes in hydrology. Forbs had higher photosynthetic and respiration rates than sedges, deciduous shrubs, and grasses, whereas rates were lowest for evergreen shrubs and mosses. The impact of management category on CO2 assimilation was an indirect consequence that occurred through changes in plant species composition: Increase in sedge cover following restoration also increased the potential photosynthetic capacity of the ecosystem. Synthesis and applications. Restoration of forestry drained young fens is a promising method for safeguarding them and bringing back their function as C reservoirs. However, their low resistance to water table draw down introduces a risk that regeneration may be partially hindered by the heavy drainage in the surrounding landscape. Therefore, restoration success is best safeguarded by managing the whole catchments instead of carrying out small-scale projects.
Subject: CO2
forestry drainage
low resistance
peatland restoration
plant functional type
species composition
1172 Environmental sciences
4112 Forestry
Peer reviewed: Yes
Rights: cc_by
Usage restriction: openAccess
Self-archived version: publishedVersion

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