Changes in pore water quality after peatland restoration: Assessment of a large¿scale, replicated Before-After-Control-Impact study in Finland
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CitationMenberu Meseret Walle. Marttila Hannu. Tahvanainen Teemu. Kotiaho Janne S. Hokkanen Reijo. Kløve Bjørn. Ronkanen Anna-Kaisa. (2017). Changes in pore water quality after peatland restoration: Assessment of a large¿scale, replicated Before-After-Control-Impact study in Finland. Water Resources Research, ([Epub ahead of print 15 Oct 2017]) , 1-7. 10.1002/2017WR020630.
Drainage is known to affect peatland natural hydrology and water quality, but peatland restoration is considered to ameliorate peatland degradation. Using a replicated BACIPS (Before-After-Control-Impact Paired Series) design, we investigated 24 peatlands, all drained for forestry and subsequently restored, and 19 pristine control boreal peatlands with high temporal and spatial resolution data on hydroclimate and pore water quality. In drained conditions, total nitrogen (Ntot), total phosphorus (Ptot), and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in pore water were several-fold higher than observed at pristine control sites, highlighting the impacts of long-term drainage on pore water quality. In general, pore water DOC and Ntot decreased after restoration measures but still remained significantly higher than at pristine control sites, indicating long time lags in restoration effects. Different peatland classes and trophic levels (vegetation gradient) responded differently to restoration, primarily due to altered hydrology and varying acidity levels. Sites that were hydrologically overrestored (inundated) showed higher Ptot, Ntot, and DOC than well-restored or insufficiently restored sites, indicating the need to optimize natural-like hydrological regimes when restoring peatlands drained for forestry. Rich fens (median pH 6.2–6.6) showed lower pore water Ptot, Ntot, and DOC than intermediate and poor peats (pH 4.0–4.6) both before and after restoration. Nutrients and DOC in pore water increased in the first year postrestoration but decreased thereafter. The most important variables related to pore water quality were trophic level, peatland class, water table level, and soil and air temperature.