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Title: The effects of rehabilitation management on the vegetation of Fenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses National Nature Reserve : a cut-over lowland raised mire
Author: Horton, Karen
ISNI:       0000 0004 2700 2305
Awarding Body: University of Wolverhampton
Current Institution: University of Wolverhampton
Date of Award: 2008
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The relationship between vegetation change and rehabilitation management is investigated at a severely degraded cut-over lowland raised mire on the Wales/England border, managed by Natural England and The Countryside Council for Wales. Positive responses are confirmed 11 years after rehabilitation commenced, identifying trends towards raised mire as well as bog pool vegetation and water table thresholds associated with these trends have been established. A landscape-scale vegetation survey was carried out three times over 9 years. Species abundance was correlated with average seasonal water table height, time since rehabilitation, cutting type and survey year. Key species maps for the time series confirmed positive vegetation response, but slower than stipulated in the site management plan. There was a clear increase in the target peat-forming species (Sphagnum cuspidatum, Eriophorum angustifolium and E. vaginatum) as a direct response to rehabilitation and correlating positively with a high water table. Permanent quadrat vegetation monitoring was carried out three times at five-year intervals. Uncut areas and areas of recent commercial cuttings were rehabilitated earliest having significant increases in target mire species without the loss of other mire species from excess inundation. In the recent commercial cutting areas, a successional trend was identified, from a low water table to a fluctuating water table characterised by Molinia caerulea-rich vegetation, followed by a transition to stable, inundated conditions supporting Sphagnum cuspidatum/Eriophorum spp pool vegetation. A second successional trend, associated with the achievement of a near-surface, stable water table, saw the development of raised mire vegetation including Sphagna other than S. cuspidatum. This latter trend was primarily found in the uncut areas of the site but was also found to a lesser extent in recently cut-over areas where it was preceded by a fluctuating water table with a Calluna vulgaris- Molinia caerulea vegetation. A new survey related water table residence time calculated from hydrology data with vegetation for each quadrat. Analysis identified a mire pool vegetation type correlated with shallow, above surface flooding. A diverse mire vegetation type was also found which correlated with the water table staying within the upper 10cm of peat. The minimum threshold for establishment of Sphagnum species was found to be an average water table level within the range of 5.1 to 10cm below the peat surface. Higher cover of Sphagnum species was related to shallow flooding – suggesting that these conditions would be most efficient in re-establishing mire vegetation. 3 A base-line vegetation monitoring survey on an area immediately following deforestation and damming identified a subtle but positive response of the mire vegetation to management within one year.
Supervisor: Trueman, Ian C. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Mire ; Bog ; Regeneration ; Sphagnum ; Peatland ; Water table ; Whixall ; Rehabilitation