University of Oulu

Laine, A., Frolking, S., Tahvanainen, T., Tolvanen, A., Tuittila, E. (2019) Spring-season flooding is a primary control of vegetation succession trajectories in primary mires. Mires and peat, (24), 1-8. doi:10.19189/MaP.2019.BG.393

Spring-season flooding is a primary control of vegetation succession trajectories in primary mires

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Author: Laine, A.M.1,2; Frolking, S.1,3; Tahvanainen, T.4;
Organizations: 1School of Forest Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
2Department of Ecology and Genetics, University of Oulu, Finland
3Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, University of New Hampshire, USA
4Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Finland
5Natural Resources Institute, University of Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: International Mire Conservation Group and International Peat Society, 2019
Publish Date: 2020-02-21


Major regime shifts in mires such as the fen–bog transition and the transition from non-forested to forested peatland are driven by ecohydrological changes. However, little is known about how the magnitudes and/or durations of hydrological shifts relate to these regime shifts. Here we analyse long-term water table data in conjunction with plant community data collected from primary mires on the Finnish coast of the Gulf of Bothnia. These ecosystems represent various stages of drainage: undrained, drained sites with developing tree stands, and unsuccessfully drained sites not supporting tree encroachment. The varying success of drainage provides an ideal field laboratory for investigation of thresholds of water table control on the successional trajectories of primary mire. Our data indicate a likely mechanism for the control of vegetation regime shifts in northern peatlands by water table, with time of year being as important a factor as the magnitude of change. Spring flooding rather than summer water table level appeared to be crucial for controlling state shifts in primary mire vegetation. As the effects of climate change on peatlands are most likely to be mediated by changes in hydrology and water table level, our study indicates a need for more thorough investigation of seasonal variability in the controlling factors.

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Series: Mires and peat
ISSN: 1819-754X
ISSN-E: 1819-754X
ISSN-L: 1819-754X
Volume: 24
Article number: 20
DOI: 10.19189/MaP.2019.BG.393
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1172 Environmental sciences
Funding: We acknowledge funding from the University of Helsinki and the Kone Foundation (A.M. Laine), the Natural Resources Institute Finland (A. Tolvanen), the Fulbright-Finland and Saastamoinen Foundations and US National Science Foundation Grant #1802825 (S. Frolking), and the Academy of Finland (Project Codes 287039 (E.-S. Tuittila) and 311655 (T. Tahvanainen).
Copyright information: © 2019 International Mire Conservation Group and International Peatland Society, DOI: 10.19189/MaP.2019.BG.393