Title: Throughflow as a determining factor for habitat contiguity in a near-natural fen
Authors: van Loon, A.H. ×
Schot, P.P.
Griffioen, J.
Bierkens, M.F.P.
Batelaan, Okke
Wassen, M.J. #
Issue Date: 15-Dec-2009
Publisher: Elsevier
Series Title: Journal of Hydrology vol:379 issue:1-2 pages:30-40
Abstract: Knowledge of the hydrological mechanisms that underlie stable plant communities within natural fens is
essential for the improvement of current fen restoration and conservation strategies. In this study,
steady-state groundwater modelling was performed to quantify the impact of throughflow mechanisms
on the presence of exfiltrated, alkaline groundwater across a near-natural fen in the Biebrza River catchment
(Poland). Alkaline groundwater is considered essential for the existence of low-productive fen
plants. The results indicate that throughflow redistributes exfiltrated groundwater, mixed with locally
infiltrated precipitation, in various concentrations across the fen. The throughflow model provides an
explanation for the major patterns in the plant alliances that have a preference for minerotrophic or
ombrotrophic habitat conditions. These patterns could not be reproduced with groundwater models that
did not account for the existence of throughflow on a regional scale. We conclude that throughflow (1)
enables a spatially contiguous supply of exfiltrated groundwater across fens, and thereby (2) facilitates
abiotic conditions suitable for fen plants outside the zones that are directly supplied by exfiltrated
groundwater. These new insights into landscape hydrological mechanisms that drive abiotic conditions
within natural fens necessitate the reprioritisation of current hydrological fen restoration strategies.
ISSN: 0022-1694
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Division of Geology
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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