ECOLOGY/EVOLUTION

Bog Succession

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Science  21 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5576, pp. 2103
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5576.2103d

Peat bogs and mires offer the plant ecologist an opportunity to trace—often in minute detail—the development of local vegetation over centuries and millennia. Plant remains preserved in the acid sediments provide a precise picture of successional change. Hughes and Dumayne-Peaty analyze the vegetation sequences in a South Wales bog and find a surprising variety of pathways of succession over the past 6000 years, even when starting from similar initial conditions. Reversals and directional change in the successional sequence appear to occur in response to external forcing (natural variation in precipitation or human disturbances to surrounding land), interrupting the autogenic progression from mire to raised bog. These results suggest that the development of bog plant communities is surprisingly idiosyncratic on a local scale and that concepts of succession, even for these relatively simple, treeless communities, need to be further revised. — AMS

J. Ecol.90, 456 (2002).

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