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Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: North American approach to the restoration of Sphagnum dominated peatlands

Published source details

Rochefort L., Quinty F., Campeau S., Johnson K. & Malterer T. (2003) North American approach to the restoration of Sphagnum dominated peatlands. Wetlands Ecology and Management, 11, 3-20


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Introduce nurse plants (to aid focal peatland plants) Peatland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 1997–1999 in a historically mined bog in Minnesota, USA (Rochefort et al. 2003) found that planting nurse herbs before adding vegetation fragments had no effect on vegetation cover. After two growing seasons, plots with and without nurse herbs had similar cover of total vegetation (3–77% vs 1–71%), Sphagnum mosses (0–68% vs 0–73%), other mosses (<1% with or without nurse herbs) and vascular plants (1–3% with or without nurse herbs). In 1997–1998, forty-eight 1.5 x 1.5 m plots were established, in six blocks of eight. Twenty-four plots (four random plots/block) were planted with 16 fewseed sedge Carex oligosperma plants. The other 24 plots were left as bare peat. Then, all plots were sown with fresh vegetation fragments from the surface of natural bogs. Some plots with and without nurse sedges were also mulched with straw. In October 1999, vegetation cover was visually estimated in four 25 x 25 cm quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mosses to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 1993–1995 in a historically mined raised bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003) reported that plots sown with Sphagnum mosses had greater Sphagnum cover, over three growing seasons, than unsown plots. Sphagnum cover was 1–5% in sown plots but <0.5% in unsown plots. Amongst sown plots, Sphagnum was still present after the third, driest growing season. However, cover had dropped to 1–3%. These results were not based on tests of statistical significance. Sphagnum cover was significantly higher in plots sown at higher densities (low initial density: 1%; medium: 2%; high: 3% final cover) but was not affected by the size of introduced fragments (data not reported). In June 1993, twenty 10 m2 plots were established on rewetted bare peat. In each plot, six subplots were sown with Sphagnum moss fragments whilst two subplots were not sown. Amongst the sown subplots, three fragment densities (low: 150; medium: 300; high: 450/m2) and two fragment sizes (1 or 2 cm) were applied. All plots were shaded with a plastic cloth. In October 1993, Sphagnum cover was estimated and live shoots counted in four 25 x 25 cm quadrats/subplot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Cover peatland with something other than mulch (after planting) Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 1994–1996 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003) reported that shading plots sown with vegetation fragments had no effect on vegetation cover. These results are not based on tests of statistical significance. Plots were initially rewetted bare peat. After three growing seasons, shaded and unshaded plots both had 3–4% total vegetation cover, <1% Sphagnum moss cover, 2% other moss cover and <1% vascular plant cover. In spring 1994, the moss layer was scraped from the surface of a natural bog and spread onto three pairs of bare peat plots (each 9 m2). Then, one plot in each pair was shaded with plastic mesh (AgrinetTM 57%). The other plots were not shaded. In 1994 and 1996, vegetation cover was estimated in each plot (details not reported).

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Cover peatland with organic mulch (after planting) Peatland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 1994–1996 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003) reported that mulching plots sown with vegetation fragments increased vegetation cover. These results were not tested for statistical significance. After three growing seasons, total vegetation cover was 17–24% in mulched plots but 3–5% in unmulched plots. This included Sphagnum moss (mulched: 0–7%; unmulched: <1%), other moss (mulched: 2–13%; unmulched: 1–2%) and vascular plants (mulched: 4–15%; unmulched: 1–4%). In early 1994, mixed plant material was collected from a natural bog and spread onto 12 pairs of plots (each 3 x 15 m) of bare rewetted peat. Then, one random plot in each pair was mulched with straw (1,500 kg/ha). The other plots were not mulched. In 1994 and 1996, vegetation cover was estimated within quadrats in each plot (details not reported).

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Cover peatland with organic mulch (after planting) Peatland Conservation

A replicated, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 1994–1996 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003) found that amongst plots sown with vegetation fragments, mulching with straw increased total vegetation and moss cover, but shrub root mulch had no effect. After three growing seasons, plots mulched with straw had significantly higher cover than unmulched plots of total vegetation (mulched: 20%; unmulched: 3%), Sphagnum moss (mulched: 1%; unmulched: 0%) and other moss (mulched: 16%; unmulched: 2%). Cover of vascular plants was similar (<1%) in mulched and unmulched plots. In contrast, all vegetation groups had similar cover in plots covered with shrub roots and the unmulched plots (total: 4%; Sphagnum moss: <1%; other moss: 3%; vascular plants: <1%). In spring 1994, plant material was scraped from the surface of a natural bog and spread onto plots of bare rewetted peat. There were nine 9 m2 plots, arranged in three blocks of three. One plot/block was then covered with a straw mulch (1,500 kg/ha), one loosely covered with shrub roots (20% cover) and one left uncovered. Vegetation cover was estimated in 1994 and 1996 (details not reported).

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Cover peatland with organic mulch (after planting) Peatland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 1997–1999 in a historically mined bog in Minnesota, USA (Rochefort et al. 2003) found that mulching plots sown with vegetation fragments increased total vegetation and Sphagnum moss cover. After two growing seasons, mulched plots had significantly greater cover than unmulched plots of total vegetation (54–77% vs 1–3%) and Sphagnum moss (51–73% vs <1%). Mulched and unmulched plots had similar cover of other mosses (<1%) and vascular plants (1–3%). In 1997–1998, vegetation was scraped from the surface of natural bogs and spread onto plots of bare peat. There were forty-eight 1.5 x 1.5 m plots, arranged in six blocks of eight. Four random plots/block were mulched with straw (3,000 kg/ha). The other plots were not mulched. Four plots/block were also planted with sedges Carex oligosperma before adding vegetation fragments. In October 1999, vegetation cover was visually estimated in four 25 x 25 cm quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Cover peatland with organic mulch (after planting) Peatland Conservation

A replicated, controlled, before-and-after study in 1993–1996 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003) reported that mulching plots sown with vegetation fragments increased vegetation cover. These results were not tested for statistical significance. After three growing seasons, plots mulched with straw had total vegetation cover of 3–11% (vs 2% in unmulched plots), total moss cover of 2–6% (unmulched: <1%), Sphagnum moss cover of 1–4% (unmulched: <1%) and vascular plant cover of 1–2% (unmulched: <1%). Amongst mulched plots, vegetation cover (of all groups) was higher when more mulch was added. However, cover was similar in plots mulched in autumn or spring (see original paper). In autumn 1993, vegetation was scraped from the surface of a natural bog and spread onto a ploughed, bare peat site. Within this site, 10 x 10 m plots were mulched with straw immediately or in the following spring: 750, 1,500 or 3,000 kg/ha (number of plots not reported). Some additional plots were not mulched. In autumn 1996, vegetation cover was visually estimated in fourteen 25 x 25 cm quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mixed vegetation to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated, randomized, paired, controlled, before-and-after study in 1993–1995 in a historically mined raised bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003; a continuation of 1) found that plots sown with vegetation from the surface of a donor bog contained more Sphagnum moss shoots, after 1–3 growing seasons, than plots sown with deeper material and unsown plots. Before sowing, plots were bare peat. After one to three growing seasons, plots sown with Sphagnum-dominated fragments from the surface of a donor bog contained more live Sphagnum shoots (190–1,240/m2) than plots sown with fragments from 10–30 cm depth (10–220/m2) or plots that had not been sown with any fragments (10–150/m2). In June 1993, twelve blocks of four 1 m2 plots were established on rewetted bare peat. Within each block, three random plots were sown with vegetation fragments (dominated by a single Sphagnum moss species) collected from a nearby natural peatland: from 0–10 cm depth (surface), 10–20 cm depth or 20–30 cm depth. No vegetation fragments were added to the fourth plot. All plots were shaded with a plastic cloth. In autumn 1993, 1994 and 1995, Sphagnum shoots were counted in four 25 x 25 cm quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mixed vegetation to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated before-and-after study in 1993–1999 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003) reported that plots sown with vegetation fragments (and rewetted and mulched) developed cover of mosses and vascular plants. Before sowing, plots were bare peat. After six growing seasons, Sphagnum moss cover was 34–52%, other moss cover 2–5% and vascular plant cover 7–11%. Plots sown with a high density of fragments had greater Sphagnum cover (52%) than those sown with lower densities (34%). In winter 1993/1994, twelve 10 x 12 m plots were sown with material from the surface of a nearby bog: primarily a mixture of four Sphagnum species. Material was sown at high, medium or low density (ratio of source to recipient surface 1:10, 1:20 or 1:30) and as complete or mechanically shredded fragments. All plots were rewetted and harrowed before introduction of plant material and mulched with straw afterwards. Between 1995 and 1999, autumn vegetation cover was visually estimated along transects, in 28–36 quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mixed vegetation to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated before-and-after study in 1994–1996 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003) reported that plots sown with vegetation fragments (some also mulched) developed some cover of mosses and vascular plants. No statistical tests were carried out. Before sowing, plots were bare peat. After three growing seasons, total vegetation cover was 3–24%. Sphagnum moss cover was <1–7%, other moss cover 1–13% and vascular plant cover 1–15%. Amongst all plots, Sphagnum formed a larger proportion of the moss cover in those mulched with straw (1–30%) than in unmulched plots (<1%). In early 1994, mixed plant material was collected from a natural bog and spread onto 12 pairs of plots (each 3 x 15 m), situated on bare rewetted peat. Then, one random plot in each pair was covered in straw mulch. In 1994 and 1996, vegetation cover was estimated within quadrats in each plot (details not reported).

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mixed vegetation to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated before-and-after study in 1994–1996 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003) reported that plots sown with vegetation fragments (some also covered) developed cover of mosses and vascular plants. Before sowing, plots were bare peat. After three years, total vegetation cover was 3–20%. Sphagnum moss cover was <1–3%, other moss cover 2–16% and vascular plant cover <1%. Plots mulched with straw had significantly higher cover of all plant groups (except vascular plants) than plots shaded with a plastic screen, plots covered with shrub roots or unprotected control plots. Amongst these other treatments, vegetation cover was similar. In spring 1994, the moss layer was scraped from the surface of a natural bog and spread onto twelve 9 m2 bare peat plots. Three plots received each of the four cover treatments: straw, plastic, roots or none. In 1994 and 1996, vegetation cover was estimated in each plot (details not reported).

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mixed vegetation to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated before-and-after study in 1997–1999 in a historically mined bog in Minnesota, USA (Rochefort et al. 2003) reported that plots sown with vegetation fragments (some also mulched and/or planted with nurse plants) developed cover of mosses and vascular plants. Before sowing, plots were bare peat. After two growing seasons, total vegetation cover was 2–77%. Sphagnum moss cover was 0–73%, other moss cover 0–1% and vascular plant cover 1–3%. Plots mulched with straw had higher total vegetation and Sphagnum cover than unmulched plots, but similar cover of other mosses and vascular plants (see intervention Add mulch after planting). Plots planted with nurse sedges had similar cover of all vegetation groups to plots without nurse sedges (see intervention Introduce nurse plants before planting peatland vegetation). These results were not tested for statistical significance. In 1997–1998, vegetation was scraped from the surface of natural bogs and spread onto forty-eight bare peat plots (1.5 x 1.5 m), arranged in six blocks of eight. Four random plots/block were mulched with straw (3,000 kg/ha). Four random plots/block were also planted with sedges Carex oligosperma before adding vegetation fragments. In October 1999, vegetation cover was visually estimated in four 25 x 25 cm quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)

Add mixed vegetation to peatland surface Peatland Conservation

A replicated before-and-after study in 1993–1996 in a historically mined bog in Quebec, Canada (Rochefort et al. 2003) reported that plots sown with vegetation fragments (some also mulched) developed some cover of mosses and vascular plants. Before sowing, plots were bare peat. After three growing seasons, sown and mulched plots had 3–11% total vegetation cover, 1–4% Sphagnum moss cover, 2–6% other moss cover and 1–2% vascular plant cover. Sown plots that were not mulched had <2% vegetation cover (a mixture of Sphagnum, other moss and vascular plants). In autumn 1993, vegetation was scraped from the surface of a natural bog and spread onto a ploughed, bare peat site. Within this site, some 10 x 10 m plots were mulched with straw immediately or in the following spring (number of plots not reported). In autumn 1996, vegetation cover was visually estimated in fourteen 25 x 25 cm quadrats/plot.

(Summarised by Nigel Taylor)