In order to focus efforts towards specific vegetation groups in fen restoration, knowledge of the peat-accumulating function of dominant fen species is critical. The decomposition rates of 3 species typical to undisturbed fens and 3 species that spontaneously colonize harvested fens were assessed. These species were incubated in both a restoration site (harvested fen) and an undisturbed fen to compare decomposition according to different environmental conditions. The average exponential decay coefficient (k) for all material types was slightly higher (circa 0.04·y-1 higher) in the harvested fen than those observed in the undisturbed fen. However, the litter type (leaves, roots/rhizomes, or bryophyte fragments) had the largest impact on the decomposition rates. The 2 tested bryophytes had lower k-values (between 0.14 and 0.11 for Polytrichum strictum and 0.06 for Sphagnum centrale) than the vascular plant litter (between 0.25 and 0.50). The annual primary production of the tested species was also measured to estimate the peat-accumulating capacity of each species. Scirpus cyperinus had an annual primary production that was 3 times higher (1500 g·m-2·y-1) than the other species (between 300 and 550 g·m-2·y-1). Estimates show that the harvested fen has a high peat-accumulating potential due to the high biomass production observed at this site.
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Vol. 16 • No. 2