Camille Boucher
Master student
Department of Phytology
Laval University

Supervised by:

Line Rochefort (Regular member)

Research project description

Sphagnum reintroduction in peatland restoration : Does bryophyte diversity follow?

Introduction: Ecological restoration is an important tool in conservation (Wiens & Hobbs 2015). Usually beneficial for ecosystem services provisioning, increasing biodiversity is often one of the goals of restoration projects, with vegetal reintroduction being a commonly used strategy (Perring et al. 2015). In Canada, Sphagnum peatland restoration following peat extraction has been going on for more than 20 years, thanks to the “moss layer transfer technique” (MLTT), developed by researchers in collaboration with the Canadian peat industry (CSPMA 2021). In a recently published paper by Hugron et al. (2020), the species pool for vascular plants has been compared between donor sites – peatlands where the plant material was collected – and restored sites. Five vascular plant species were identified as “recalcitrant”, failing to recolonize restored peatlands… but what about bryophyte species (mosses and liverworts)?Objectives: This project aims to: determine the effectiveness of the “moss layer transfer technique” to restore moss and liverwort diversity – through the comparison of donor and restored sites; identify bryophyte species recalcitrant to the MLTT, if there are any; to suggest improvements to the technique that would favour the reestablishment of these species. In addition, another goal of the project is to examine how the reformation of microtopographic structures typical of Sphagnum peatlands – hummocks-and-hollows gradient – influences bryophyte diversity in restored peatlands. Study sites: Two types of study sites are included in this project: Sphagnum peatlands in which there was peat extraction, followed by restoration through the “moss layer transfer technique”, and natural donor peatlands where the plant material used for restoration was collected. Restored peatlands can often be divided in sectors, with different periods elapsed since restoration – from 5 to 22 years. Study sites: are located in Quebec (Lac-Saint-Jean, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Côte-Nord) and in New Brunswick (Acadian peninsula). Material and methods: Moss and liverwort species of donor and restored sites are inventoried in circular 0.70-meter diameter plots, placed along transects diagonal to old drainage ditches, in a “W” pattern that allows for coverage of both old ditch slopes, wetter, and of drier parts of restored sectors. Percent covers are estimated for all bryophyte species present in 11 equidistant plots for each sector. In restored peatlands, the development level of typical microstructures – hummocks and hollows – is also quantified along one of the transects, following the method used by Pouliot & coll. (2012). A high precision altimeter will allow for the estimation of the mean height of hummocks and of hollows against a local reference point. References: CSPMA, 2021. Production responsable de la tourbe – La recherche. Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association [En ligne] (Consulté le 25 août 2021). Hugron, S., Guêné-Nanchen, M., Roux, N., LeBlanc, M-C., Rochefort, L. 2020. Plant reintroduction in restored peatlands: 80% successfully transferred – Does the remaining 20% matter? Global Ecology and Conservation, 22 e01000. Perring, M.P., Standish, R.J., Price, J.N., Craig, M.D., Erickson, T.E., Ruthrof, K.X., et al., 2015. Advances in restoration ecology: rising to the challenges of the coming decades. Ecosphere 6, 1-25. Pouliot, R., Rochefort, L., Karofeld, E. 2012. Initiation of microtopography in re-vegetated cutover peatlands: evolution of plant species composition. Applied Vegetation Science. Vol 15, pages 369-382. Wiens, J.A., Hobbs, R. J. 2015. Integrating conservation and restoration in a changing world. BioScience. Vol 65, pages 302-312.

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