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Vegetation changes in temperate ombrotrophic peatlands over a 35 year period.

07:00 EST 13th February 2020 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Vegetation changes in temperate ombrotrophic peatlands over a 35 year period."

Global changes in climate and land use are occurring at an unprecedented rate, often triggering drastic shifts in plant communities. This study aims to reconstruct the changes that occurred over 35 years in the plant communities of temperate bogs subjected to indirect human-induced disturbances. In 2015-17, we resurveyed the vascular flora of 76 plots located in 16 bogs of southern Québec (Canada) first sampled in 1982. We evaluated changes in species richness, frequency of occurrence and abundance, while considering species shade-tolerance and preferential habitat. We calculated beta diversity as between-site similarities in composition, and evaluated differences between the two surveys using tests for homogeneity in multivariate dispersion. We found a significant increase in species richness and beta diversity over the last 35 years associated with major species turnovers, indicating a biotic differentiation of the Sphagnum-bog plant communities. These changes were mostly associated with an increase in the abundance and frequency of shade-tolerant and facultative species, suggesting a global phenomenon of woody encroachment. Because the observed changes occurred in a few decades on sites free of in situ human disturbances, we suggest that they were likely induced by the synergic effect of the agricultural drainage occurring in the surrounding mineral soils, climate warming, and nitrogen atmospheric depositions. We also believe that further changes are to be expected, as the triggering factors persist. Finally, our results highlight the need for increased bog conservation or restauration efforts. Indeed, a rise in beta diversity due to the introduction of nearby terrestrial species could induce biotic homogenization of the bog flora with that of surrounding habitats and ultimately impoverish the regional species pool.

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This article was published in the following journal.

Name: PloS one
ISSN: 1932-6203
Pages: e0229146

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