Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: The role of Polytrichum strictum as a potential diaspore trap to enhance establishment of Sphagnum mosses on an abandoned peatlands, Lac St-Jean, Quebec, Canada

Published source details

Groeneveld E., Masse A. & Rochefort L. (2007) Polytrichum strictum as a nurse-plant in peatland restoration. Restoration Ecology, 15, 709-719


In Canada, former harvested peatlands are often left as bare peat substrates mostly devoid of plants, including Sphagnum; re-establishment of these mosses is considered essential to most rehabilitation efforts. Polytrichum strictum is a pioneer moss which is able to colonise bare peat surfaces. This experiment examined the potential of a P.strictum carpet as a seed trap, thus enhancing establishment of Sphagnum.

Study area: The field experiment was carried out on a vacuum harvested peat field located near Rivie`re-du-Loup, Quebec (47°48'N, 69°28'W), abandoned in 1980.

Experimental design: Two treatments consisting of P.strictum cover carpet and bare peat were tested, in a randomized block design with six 1.5 — 1.5 m blocks, for seed retention. The experiment used chicken feathers to represent seeds/ diaspores. The experiment was conducted in strong and light wind conditions, using 40 seeds and 30 seeds, respectively, per plot for trial. The number of artificial seeds remaining after 1 and 2 hours for the strong-wind conditions and after 4 hours for the light-wind conditions was counted.

P. strictum carpet captured more artificial seeds than bare peat. During strong-wind condition, after 1 h more seeds were retained on the carpet (94%) than on the bare soil (52%). After 2 h, the difference was greater, with 90% retention on the carpet and 43% retention on the bare peat. No significant differences under light-wind conditions were found between the carpet and bare soil treatments.

Polytrichum strictum may hasten the reestablishment of Sphagnum by acting as a diaspore trap.

Note: If using or referring to this published study, please read and quote the original paper, this can be viewed at: