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Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in natural bog pools and those created by rewetting schemes

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Anthropogenic drainage and cutting over of peatlands have historically occurred worldwide leading to erosion, issues with water quality, loss of biodiversity, and reduced rates of carbon accumulation. In recent years, rewetting measures have attempted to address these issues. Creating dams to block drainage ditches on peatlands is a common restoration tool, yet the ecological consequences of such management interventions are poorly understood. In particular, knowledge about the ecology of the thousands of pools created by drain blocking is limited even though they potentially provide valuable new habitat for aquatic species and food and water sources for terrestrial organisms. More research is needed to assess the suitability of these artificial pools as surrogates for naturally occurring peat pools with regard to the flora (e.g., bryophytes, algae, and macrophytes) and fauna (e.g., invertebrates and amphibians), which utilize them. Evidence suggests that (1) to maximize benefits to aquatic biota, land managers should consider creating an array of differently sized pools behind the dams as a broader size range would facilitate colonization by a wider range of taxa, (2) prioritizing landscapes close to existing water bodies would encourage faster colonization, and (3) even newly created pools with low macrophyte cover may be able to sustain substantial populations of larger fauna via algal primary production, consumption of detritus, and microbial processing of humic substances and methane. Ongoing programs of peatland restoration worldwide also afford unique opportunities to study how pool communities assemble and change over time. WIREs Water 2015, 2:65–84. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1063 This article is categorized under: Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness Water and Life > Nature of Freshwater Ecosystems
(a) Natural pool system in the Flow Country, northern Scotland, and (b) natural pool on peatland near Abisko, Sweden.
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Schematic representation of the food web in raised bog pools. The percentages next to the black arrows indicate the mean estimated contribution of the basal food sources to the aquatic macroinvertebrates, as derived from isotopic analysis. The dashed arrows indicate possible additional trophic relations based on phospholipid‐derived fatty acid (PLFA) data. The green dotted arrows indicate the possible role of methane‐oxidizing bacteria (MOB) in the carbon supply to the primary producers. PUFAs, polyunsaturated fatty acids. (Reprinted with permission from Ref . Copyright 2014 The Society for Freshwater Science).
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Potential dispersal mechanisms of macroinvertebrates inhabiting peat pools.
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Larva of Aeshna juncea (Common Hawker), found in a drain‐blocked pool on Yad Moss, Cumbria, England.
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The green alga Saturnella saturnus, found for the first time in the British Isles in drain‐blocked pools at Moor House NNR, Upper Teesdale, England © C.F. Carter (6cvw@freeuk.com).
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Area of drained peatland on the Migneint, North Wales, © Richard Smart, formerly University of Leeds.
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Conceptual framework showing how the different ecological elements of drain‐blocked pools on areas of ombrotrophic bog might develop and interact over time from the moment of pool creation (i.e., since blocking), along with associated research questions.
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(a) Pools formed in blocked drains at Moor House National Nature Reserve (NNR), Cumbria, England, and (b) drain‐blocked pool near Malham Tarn, England.
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Water and Life > Conservation, Management, and Awareness
Water and Life > Nature of Freshwater Ecosystems

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