Effects of tephra deposition on mire vegetation: a field experiment in Hokkaido, Japan

S. Hotes, P. Poschlod, H. Takahashi, A. P. Grootjans, E. Adema

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    1 The influence of tephra (aerially transported volcanic ejecta) on mire vegetation was investigated in a field experiment at Sarobetsu Mire, northern Hokkaido, Japan, which simulated relatively thin, widespread tephras. It was carried out in the centre of a raised part of the mire in a Carex middendorffii-Sphagnum papillosum community.

    2 We tested the effects of varying tephra layer thickness, grain size and season of the simulated tephra impact.

    3 Vegetation surveys and analyses of the mire pore water were carried out before and 1 and 2 years after tephra application. Redox potential, oxygen saturation and sulphide concentration were measured in the surface layer of selected plots after 10 months.

    4 Pore water chemistry and oxygen saturation changed significantly in some treatments. Some plant species disappeared from certain treatments after tephra application, but the majority survived. Colonization by non-mire species played a significant role in only one treatment. Mosses were more strongly affected by the disturbance than vascular plants.

    5 Tephra had stronger effects on the vegetation when layers were thicker, were more fine-grained and when applied at the beginning rather than at the end of the growing season.

    6 Moderate tephra deposition is unlikely to cause long-term changes in mire development. Subsequent succession depends on properties of the tephra, on the vegetation type (e.g. life-forms) and on the season, but the original vegetation will probably recover even where the moss layer is severely damaged, as Sphagnum spp. can re-establish by growing through tephra at least up to 6 cm thick.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)624-634
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Ecology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Aug-2004


    • disturbance
    • field experiment
    • Japan
    • mire
    • succession
    • tephra
    • vegetation
    • volcanic impact
    • water chemistry
    • FENS
    • BOG
    • ASH

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