Drivers of Plot Scale Evapotranspiration in Restored and Unrestored Extracted Peatlands

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Miranda Hunter , Colin McCarter , Ian Strachan , Maria Strack

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Peat extraction alters peatland hydrology through active drainage and altered peat hydrophysical properties. Once extraction ceases, ecosystem recovery is limited by low soil moisture and deep water tables. Peatland restoration aims to return hydrologic conditions to those in undisturbed, reference peatlands. Changes to water table position, and re-introduction of plant species post-restoration, will both alter ET. Yet, how ET evolves post-restoration is poorly understood, particularly at the plot scale. In this study, ET was calculated from compiled growing season plot scale relative humidity data from restored, unrestored, and natural peatland sites in Seba Beach, Alberta and Bois-des-Bel, Quebec. Time since restoration at these sites ranged from 1 year to 25 years. The objectives of this study were to i) assess differences in ET between the three site types, ii) assess the influence of time since restoration on ET, iii) evaluate the influence of environmental controls and vegetation communities on ET. This study found that the restored sites had significantly higher ET rates than the natural and unrestored sites. There was no relationship between ET and time since restoration. Atmospheric conditions and soil temperature were important drivers of ET at all sites. Water table depth was not an important driver. The influence of vegetation differed across the sites. Gross ecosystem productivity was important at the restored and unrestored sites, while moss cover was most important at natural sites. Understanding the drivers of ET will help us better predict restored peatland water balance under a changing climate.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program