Laura Riano Pena
Master student
Department of Phytology
Laval University

Supervised by:

Line Rochefort (Regular member)

Research project description

Characterization of plant biodiversity in natural and managed peatland pools in Eastern Canada

Introduction: Faced with the scientific community's observation of the accelerated loss of ecosystems and biodiversity, a desire to preserve and restore natural ecosystems has emerged. In ecological restoration of peatlands after peat extraction, we know that the species of natural pools are still absent from the pools created six years after the restoration. Furthermore, data on the vegetation of pools that spontaneously formed in restored peatlands are still not available and their potential contribution to the biodiversity of restored peatlands remains unknown. For this reason this research project is of great interest. It will allow the characterization of the biodiversity of various types of peatland pools by identifying environmental factors that favor the establishment of a specific diversity. Objectives: The main objective of this research project is to determine the environmental factors that promote the establishment of specific plant diversity associated with spontaneous and created pools. The research hypotheses are that spontaneous ponds are likely to resemble more natural flat-bed ponds (low slope), because they form in suitable places and combine favorable conditions for pond-edge plants. Study sites: Three types of pools will be inventoried in various natural and restored ombrotrophic peatlands (bogs). These are: 1) natural pools in undisturbed peatlands, 2) pools created during the restoration process (by digging and planting), and 3) spontaneous pools that have emerged after restoration as a result of terrain hazards and heavy machinery use. Study sites: are located in five regions in Eastern Canada: Lower St. Lawrence, Quebec City, Lac-Saint-Jean, North Shore and New Brunswick. Thus, the sampling sites will include ten natural peatlands (reference ecosystems), ten peatlands restored by the Moss Layer Transfer Technique (MLTT; developed by the team of Line Rochefort). The MLTT is a method that involves rewetting the restored site by blocking the drainage channels. The restored sites potentially contain spontaneous pools to be inventoried. Material and methods: Surveys of the pool vegetation will be conducted along six transects (minimum): three transects will be located where the slope of the pool is low, and three transects where the slope is steep; using circular quadrats of 70 cm in diameter. The first quadrat will be placed in the water (to inventory the aquatic vegetation). The second will be placed at the edge of the pool. The third will be located 2 m from the edge of the pool. Finally, a fourth will be located 10 m from any pool. A minimum of three pools will be sampled for each bog. We will measure the perimeter of the pool, the pH and the electrical conductivity of the water, the residual depth of the peat (for created and spontaneous pools), the depth of the peat to the mineral layer (for natural pools) and the slope of the pool, as well as the degree of decomposition of the peat, and the chemical composition of the pool water. References:

Research Site Coordinates

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