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Leaf area phenology across mire types in response to meteorological variation and experimental water level manipulation

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Title: Leaf area phenology across mire types in response to meteorological variation and experimental water level manipulation
Author(s): Chapman, Jack
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry
Degree program: Master 's Programme in Forest Sciences
Specialisation: Forest ecology and management
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2022
Abstract:
Climate change is expected to cause long-term drying on northern peatlands due to increased evapotranspiration. Summer heatwaves and droughts are also predicted to increase with climate change. Vascular plant leaf area phenology on peatlands is affected by reduced water levels and interannual variation in weather. Nutrient rich mire types are more susceptible to both functional and compositional changes in response to long-term and short-term changes in water level. What remains unexplored is the potential for interactive effects between long-term drying and short-term drought events on leaf area phenology on varying mire types. This study quantifies the response of leaf area phenology to 20-year experimental water level drawdown (WLD) across three mire types of varying nutrient levels (mesotrophic fen, oligotrophic fen and ombrotrophic bog). Measurements were conducted in two contrasting growing seasons, 2017 a cool wet year and 2021 a hot dry year. WLD led to significantly earlier growth peaks across all sites. Community compositional changes in response to WLD were most significant at the more nutrient rich mire sites. At the mesotrophic site WLD resulted in significant reductions in peak leaf area (LAIMAX), which was not observed at the other sites. Across all the WLD plots the hot dry year 2021 resulted in significantly greater LAIMAX relative to the cool wet year 2017, this difference was not significant at any of the control plots. This suggests long-term drying alters the way mire phenology responds to short-term variations in weather. This has important implications for the ability of northern mires to function ‘normally’ under future climate conditions.
Keyword(s): Peatland Mire Leaf Area Phenology Drought Climate Change


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