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Volume 14 (2014) Article 6
Shallow inundation favours decomposition of Phragmites australis leaves in a near-natural temperate fen.
by C. Völlm and F. Tanneberger
Published online: 01.09.2014
Mowing is widely used in temperate fens to conserve typical flora and fauna by creating or maintaining low, sparse, treeless vegetation with a thin litter layer. In certain cases the removal of the mown biomass may not be feasible because of high costs, or not desirable because of increased disturbance. Few studies have addressed the decomposition of mown biomass, especially with regard to litter fragment size resulting from differences in cutting techniques. We studied biomass decomposition in a near-natural fen in north-eastern Germany, using litter bags with small and large fragments of common reed (Phragmites australis (Cav.) Trin. Ex. Steud.) in wet and dry locations for ca. 250 days. We observed a significant effect of water level on decomposition, but no effect of the size of litter fragments. The greatest decomposition occurred at the wet plots of the wettest site, the lowest at the dry plots of the driest site. The results demonstrate that water level is an important controlling variable in decomposition and that, in near-natural fens with vegetation dominated by Phragmites, decomposition is greatest in shallowly inundated sites. We conclude that in such sites, cut biomass may be left on site to maintain a thin litter layer but removal of biomass may still be required due to other considerations.
Völlm, C. & Tanneberger, F. (2014): Shallow inundation favours decomposition of Phragmites australis leaves in a near-natural temperate fen. Mires and Peat 14: Art. 6. (Online: http://www.mires-and-peat.net/pages/volumes/map14/map1406.php)
IMCG and IPS acknowledge the work of the reviewers.