Hydro-chemical effects following restoration mowing in two rich fen plant communities

Menichino, Nina M.; Evans, Chris; Fenner, Nathalie; Freeman, Chris; Jones, Laurence. 2019 Hydro-chemical effects following restoration mowing in two rich fen plant communities. Ecological Engineering, 127. 536-546.

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Mowing is a common management technique employed in Europe and North America to manage seral wetland plant communities to: (a) prevent development to late succession, (b) minimise internal eutrophication and (c) conserve biodiversity. However, little is known about the effect mowing has on water quality, and the duration of any effects. Therefore, mowing treatments were applied in two abandoned fen plant communities: a Schoenus nigricans-Juncus subnodulosus (SN) community (hand-cutting) and a Cladio-Molinietum (CM) community (machine mowing). Mowing took place once in each community across three sites in North Wales, U.K. Effects on water chemistry were followed for two years post mowing. Mowing led to a rise in water table towards the ground surface in the CM plant community, persisting throughout the duration of the study. Increases in electrical conductivity, pH, calcium and magnesium concentrations were observed in both plant communities following mowing for two years. This represents a positive impact on fen hydro-chemistry, promoting base rich conditions favoured by calcicolous plants, however it may be a result of peat compaction and or disturbance. Contrary to expectations, mowing did not lead to a reduction in nutrient or dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentration in either plant community. The CM community exhibited a short-term increase in DOC and dissolved organic nitrogen, which decreased by the second year. It is suggested that these changes were attributable to increased litter inputs. Both plant communities exhibited an increased in base cations, pH and electrical conductivity. It appears that any disturbance to the carbon and nitrogen cycles may be short-lived following mowing, whereas the increased availability of base-rich cations and associated increase of pH and electrical conductivity may confer longer term ecological benefits.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Soils and Land Use (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0925-8574
NORA Subject Terms: Agriculture and Soil Science
Date made live: 26 Jun 2018 10:31 +0 (UTC)

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