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Volume 6 (2010): Article 5
Hydrological self-regulation of domed peatlands in south-east Asia and consequences for conservation and restoration.
by R. Dommain, J. Couwenberg and H. Joosten
Published online: 26.10.2010
This article explores the hydrological constraints on the existence of forested peat domes (peat swamp forests) in the humid tropics, the self-regulation mechanisms that enable them to persist and the implications for restoration of damaged domes. The most important requirement for the preservation of peat is permanent saturation by water. The variable input of precipitation must be translated into a constant water supply to the peat mound. In intact tropical peat swamp domes, water is stored above the peat surface in depressions between hummocks that surround tree trunks and between spreading buttress roots. This above-ground water store is analogous to the water stored in the loose upper layer of peat and vegetation in Sphagnum bogs. The horizontal differentiation of the peat swamp forest floor into hummocks with limited hydraulic conductivity and depressions with high storage capacity resembles the hummock-hollow patterning of these Sphagnum bogs. Hummocks and other surface elements functionally resemble V-notch weirs that regulate water availability. Buttressed trees play a key role in providing the structural elements for hydrological self-regulation. An additional level of regulation is found in the concentric zonation of forest types with increased presence of buttressed trees on steeper margins. Conservation and restoration efforts should take into account the interrelationships between trees, water and peat and the hydrological feedbacks that operate as a consequence.
Dommain, R., Couwenberg, J. & Joosten, H. (2010): Hydrological self-regulation of domed peatlands in south-east Asia and consequences for conservation and restoration Mires and Peat 6: Art. 5. (Online: http://www.mires-and-peat.net/pages/volumes/map06/map0605.php)
IMCG and IPS acknowledge the work of the reviewers.