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Keywords:

  • acidification;
  • fen;
  • floating raft;
  • methane;
  • minerotrophic;
  • wetland restoration

Soaks (areas of mesotrophic/minerotrophic vegetation within acid bog) add to the overall heterogeneity and biodiversity of raised bog landscapes due to the presence of flora and fauna communities not typically associated with acid bog systems. A field experiment was set up to investigate the potential to restore the minerotrophic and aquatic communities that previously occurred within a soak of an oceanic raised bog in Ireland, which has recently undergone acidification with the expansion of acid bog type vegetation. Three different treatments, control (intact sphagnaceous raft), permeable (sphagnaceous raft removed), and enclosed (sphagnaceous raft removed and plots isolated from surrounding surface water influence) were applied to a total of six plots (each measuring 4 × 4 m), each treatment consisting of two replicates. Within 3 years a sphagnaceous raft with similar vegetation to the surroundings had developed in both permeable plots, while aquatic communities similar to those that occurred at the site in the past had established within the enclosed pots. Our results show that with manipulation of local hydrology it is possible to recreate conditions suitable for aquatic plant communities that once characterized the site. The results also give an insight into the likely processes responsible for the initial terrestrialization of the entire soak over the past century. Application of the results in relation to the site and the widespread practice of restoring bog vegetation on degraded peatlands are discussed.