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Title: The response of arthropod assemblages to peatland restoration in formerly afforested blanket bog
Author: Pravia-Fernández, Ainoa
ISNI:       0000 0004 7658 9974
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2018
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The restoration of drained afforested blanket bogs is a cost-effective management approach in peatland conservation that aims to restore key ecosystem functions such as biodiversity and carbon storage and sequestration. Although arthropods are one of the most abundant and widespread animal groups in peatlands, little research has been carried out to assess their response to the variety of restoration management techniques that have been applied in afforested blanket bogs. We assessed the effectiveness of restoration by investigating the restoration trajectory of arthropod assemblages in formerly afforested blanket bog. We first looked at the long-term trajectory of arthropod assemblages, as well as carabid and moth taxa, in a chronosequence of tree-felled/drain-blocked treatments. Then, we looked at the short-term response of arthropod and carabid assemblages in treatments under varying regimes of brash management. General arthropod assemblages, and the functional traits of carabids and moths, were used to further investigate what type of biotic and abiotic parameters might be of importance during restoration. Lastly, we looked at potential biondicators of restoration progress to be used in restoration monitoring. The long-term restoration trajectory showed that typical bog assemblages are yet to be achieved due to persistence of generalists, as well as absence of bog specialists. Divergence in assembly trajectory was found at 18 years since onset of restoration, suggesting the emergence of an alternative state. Short-term restoration shows that brash might act as temporary habitat at early stages, where carabids favour lower structurally complex habitats than arthropods. Broad patterns of moth distribution revealed trait syndromes associated with blanket bog, whilst abiotic components such as vegetation structure, temperature, plot perimeter and blanket bog connectivity were found to be key for arthropod assemblages. The latter suggests potential legacy and edge effects associated with the restoration process. Arthropods and carabids showed high habitat specificity and fidelity, providing high bioindicator potential for restoration progress. This thesis shows that typical bog arthropod assemblages largely rely on habitat microstructure, particularly Sphagnum mosses, and associated microclimates for survival. Management can provide temporary refuge for arthropods, but the re-establishment of peat-forming vegetation and water table depth is essential for the return of typical bog assemblages. Though trade-offs might be encountered in the long-term restoration of peatland functions, a restoration framework is provided for the monitoring of arthropod assemblages.
Supervisor: Andersen, Roxane ; Artz, Rebekka R. E. ; Boyd, Kenneth. ; Littlewood, Nick A. Sponsor: University of the Highlands and Islands ; James Hutton Institute
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Peatland restoration ; Arthropoda ; Bog ecology