University of Oulu

Rajakallio, M, Jyväsjärvi, J, Muotka, T, Aroviita, J. Blue consequences of the green bioeconomy: Clear-cutting intensifies the harmful impacts of land drainage on stream invertebrate biodiversity. J Appl Ecol. 2021; 58: 1523– 1532.

Blue consequences of the green bioeconomy : clear-cutting intensifies the harmful impacts of land drainage on stream invertebrate biodiversity

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Author: Rajakallio, Maria1; Jyväsjärvi, Jussi1; Muotka, Timo1;
Organizations: 1Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Freshwater Centre, Finnish Environment Institute, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-09-01


1. Growing bioeconomy is increasing the pressure to clear-cut drained peatland forests. Yet, the cumulative effects of peatland drainage and clear-cutting on the biodiversity of recipient freshwater ecosystems are largely unknown.

2. We studied the isolated and combined effects of peatland drainage and clear-cutting on stream macroinvertebrate communities. We further explored whether the impact of these forestry-driven catchment alterations to benthic invertebrates is related to stream size. We quantified the impact on invertebrate biodiversity by comparing communities in forestry-impacted streams to expected communities modelled with a multi-taxon niche model.

3.The impact of clear-cutting of drained peatland forests exceeded the sum of the independent effects of drainage and clear-cutting, indicating a synergistic interaction between the two disturbances in small streams. Peatland drainage reduced benthic biodiversity in both small and large streams, whereas clear-cutting did the same only in small streams. Small headwater streams were more sensitive to forestry impacts than the larger downstream sites.

4.We found 11 taxa (out of 25 modelled) to respond to forestry disturbances. These taxa were mainly different from those previously reported as sensitive to forestry-driven alterations, indicating the context dependence of taxonomic responses to forestry. In contrast, most of the functional traits previously identified as responsive to agricultural sedimentation also responded to forestry pressures. In particular, taxa that live temporarily in hyporheic habitats, move by crawling, disperse actively in water, live longer than 1 year, use eggs as resistance form and obtain their food by scraping became less abundant than expected, particularly in streams impacted by both drainage and clear-cutting.

5. Synthesis and applications. Drained peatland forests in boreal areas are reaching maturity and will soon be harvested. Clear-cutting of these forests incurs multiple environmental hazards but previous studies have focused on terrestrial ecosystems. Our results show that the combined impacts of peatland drainage and clear-cutting may extend across ecosystem boundaries and cause significant biodiversity loss in recipient freshwater ecosystems. This information supports a paradigm shift in boreal forest management, whereby continuous-cover forestry based on partial harvest may provide the most sustainable approach to peatland forestry.

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Series: Journal of applied ecology
ISSN: 0021-8901
ISSN-E: 1365-2664
ISSN-L: 0021-8901
Volume: 58
Issue: 7
Pages: 1523 - 1532
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2664.13889
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was funded by the Academy of Finland as part of the SOurce STream PROtection (SOSTPRO) project organized through the JPI Water Works 2016 ERA-NET Co-funded Call, the Nordic Centre of Excellence BIOWATER, funded by NordForsk under Project no. 82263, and by the European Union LIFE IP FRESHABIT project.
Copyright information: © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Applied Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.