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Multiple Gradients in Mire Vegetation: A Comparison of a Swedish and an Italian Bog

Luca Bragazza, Håkan Rydin and Renato Gerdol
Plant Ecology
Vol. 177, No. 2 (2005), pp. 223-236
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20146727
Page Count: 14
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Multiple Gradients in Mire Vegetation: A Comparison of a Swedish and an Italian Bog
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Abstract

The major environmental gradients underlying plant species distribution were outlined in two climatically and biogeographically contrasting mires: a Swedish bog in the boreo-nemoral zone, and an Italian bog in the south-eastern Alps. Data on mire morphology, surface hydrology, floristic composition, peat chemistry and pore-water chemistry were collected along transects from the mire margin (i.e., the outer portion of the mire in contact with the surrounding mineral soil) towards the mire expanse (i.e., the inner portion of the mire). The delimitation and the extent of the minerotrophic mire margin were related to the steepness of the lateral mire slope which, in turns, controls the direction of surface water flow. The mineral soil water limit was mirrored in geochemical variables such as pH, alkalinity, Ca²⁺, Mg²⁺, Al³⁺, Mn²⁺, and SiO₂ concentrations in pore-water, as well as Ca, Al, Fe, N and P contents in surface peat. Depending on regional requirements of plant species, different species were useful as fen limit indicators at the two sites. The main environmental factors affecting distribution of habitat types and plant species in the two mires were the acidity-alkalinity gradient, and the gradient in depth to the water table. The mire margin - mire expanse gradient corresponds to a complex gradient mainly reflected in a differentiation of vegetation structure in relation to the aeration of the peat substrate.

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