Informing innovative peatland conservation in light of palaeoecological evidence for the demise of Sphagnum imbricatum: the case of Oxenhope Moor, Yorkshire, UK

McCarroll, Julia and Chambers, Frank M and Webb, Julia C and Thom, T (2016) Informing innovative peatland conservation in light of palaeoecological evidence for the demise of Sphagnum imbricatum: the case of Oxenhope Moor, Yorkshire, UK. Mires and Peat, 18 (N/A). pp. 1-24. ISSN 1819-754X

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Abstract

Actively growing mires have high conservation value and the potential to sequester carbon. However, drainage, burning, overgrazing and atmospheric pollution have led to depauperation of native flora and loss of peat at many peatland sites. In order to counteract such degradation, palaeoecological techniques can be applied and the data then used to inform nature conservation practice. The present study exemplifies this approach and was conducted on degraded blanket mire in Yorkshire, UK, in collaboration with a field-based moorland restoration agency. High-resolution, multiproxy palaeoecological analyses on a peat core from Oxenhope Moor were used to reconstruct Holocene vegetation changes spanning approximately the last 7000 years. Humification, pollen, plant macrofossil and charcoal analyses show distinct changes in species composition and indicate their potential causes. Human-induced changes identified at 2100 cal. BP are most likely to reflect deliberate clearance by fire. Sphagnum imbricatum disappears and is subsequently replaced by S. papillosum at ca. 1000 cal. BP, possibly due to drier conditions and competition between the two species. Increased human activity is identified since the Industrial Revolution where monocots and Eriophorum vaginatum increase, interpreted as a result of managed burning. It is intended that the long-term ecological history of the site, derived using palaeoecological techniques, will be used to inform conservation practice and can help set feasible targets for restoration and conservation. Specifically, encouraging a species mix that has pre-19th century longevity is suggested, including the specific recommendation that translocation of S. imbricatum be explored experimentally at this site, with a view to ascertaining likely success elsewhere.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Bog ecology, conservation management, mire conservation, palaeoecology, peatlands, England
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QK Botany
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Natural & Social Sciences > Environmental Sciences
Research Priority Areas: Environmental Dynamics & Governance
Depositing User: Julia Webb
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2016 15:16
Last Modified: 29 Mar 2017 13:31
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/3184

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