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Restoring sedges and mosses into frost heaving iron fens, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Author(s): R.A. Chimner

Journal: Mires and Peat
ISSN 1819-754X

Volume: 8;
Issue: 07;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Carex | mountain | restoration | mulching | peatlands | Sphagnum

Rare iron fens in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado are frequently in poor condition due to mining, roads and ditches, which have left much of the fen completely bare of vegetation. Natural revegetation is slow to occur in the bare areas because of severe frost heave in the cold mountain climate. Therefore, experimental revegetation plots were conducted in a factorial design with mulching and no mulching, crossed with moss diaspores, sedge transplants, and moss and sedge combined. Mulching influenced surface soil temperatures by reducing the midday highs and increasing the night-time lows, which decreased the frequency and amount of frost heave. Peat moisture also modified frost heave, with the greatest frost heaving occurring near 75 % peat moisture content (water table 10–20 cm below the surface) and the least when soils were either wetter or drier. Moss survival was dependent on mulch, with no moss surviving in plots without mulch. Mulching also increased sedge transplant survival. In summary, mulching significantly increased the success of vegetation restoration efforts for frost heave areas in mountain fens.
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