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    Engineering restoration and gaseous carbon uptake on a degraded bog: the role of Eriophorum angustifolium and micropropagated Sphagnum

    Keightley, Anna T, Field, Chris D ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8403-2848, Rowson, James G, Wright, Neal A and Caporn, Simon J.M. (2023) Engineering restoration and gaseous carbon uptake on a degraded bog: the role of Eriophorum angustifolium and micropropagated Sphagnum. Mires and Peat, 29. 23. ISSN 1819-754X

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    Abstract

    Degraded peatlands are significant sources of carbon greenhouse gases (CGHG), and their recovery can make significant contributions to climate change mitigation as well as deliver biodiversity benefits. Sphagnum mosses are key species for northern peatland formation and re-introduction is often needed for successful ecohydrological restoration of degraded bogs, but natural sources are scarce and often protected. Micropropagated Sphagnum moss products (BeadaMoss®) were developed to alleviate this constraint. This research explored in detail, for the first time, the CGHG fluxes on a cut-over lowland peatland restoration site where micropropagated Sphagnum was introduced to an existing ‘nurse crop’ of Eriophorum angustifolium, and tested the influence of vegetation maturity. Ecosystem CGHG flux was measured using closed chambers at plot scale in areas of both mature and immature E. angustifolium with and without application of BeadaGel™ Sphagnum, with control plots on bare peat. Studies were conducted over two years of contrasting weather patterns. In Year 1, mean net (CO2e) CGHG uptake on vegetated plots was -2.33 (minimum 1.55, maximum -5.55) t ha-1 yr-1 with increasing CGHG uptake as vegetation matured. In Year 2, gross photosynthesis reduced significantly during the 2018 summer drought resulting in a small mean net CGHG emission of 0.11 (minimum 2.21 maximum -1.22) t ha-1 yr-1 . Sphagnum application within immature vegetation resulted in greater CGHG uptake in both years, but was not as beneficial within mature vegetation. CGHG emission from bare peat (3.79 t ha-1 yr-1 overall) showed the magnitude of avoided losses. Methane flux contributed significantly to CGHG emission but was not closely related to water table depth. Application of Sphagnum within E. angustifolium can deliver good CGHG flux results in the early stages of degraded lowland bog recovery but cannot fully mitigate vulnerability to climate change scenarios.

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