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Pacific Southwest Research Station
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Albany, CA 94710-0011
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Title: Stability and change in minerotrophic peatlands, Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada
Author: Bartolome, James W.; Erman, Don C.; Schwara, Charles F.
Source: Res. Paper PSW-RP-198. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station; 11 p
Station ID: RP-PSW-198
Description: Minerotrophic peatlands or fens in California's Sierra Nevada are small wet meadows surrounded by mixed conifer forest. The dynamics of vegetation change at the meadow edge and the ages and development of fens were investigated, in the Sagehen Creek Basin near Truckee, California, through the use of radiocarbon dating of peat, pollen studies, examination of processes of peat development and accumulation, stand age analysis of trees around peatlands, and evaluation of tree-ring variation. These approaches were used to evaluate both short- and long-term changes. Fens varied in age from more than 8000 years to less than 1000 years old. Results suggest that overall fen development proceeds rapidly, with peat buildup dependent upon adequate moisture supply. During fen development trees repeatedly invade and retreat from the fen edges. The timing of invasions appears unrelated to events such as human disturbance and climatic change. Instead, changes are most likely to result from alterations in groundwater supply in interaction with tree establishment, longevity, and water uptake. Little evidence was found that accepted successional models which emphasize predictable and gradual vegetational development apply to fens in the Sagehen Basin.
Key Words: wet meadow, fen, plant succession, pine invasion, Pinus contorta, lodgepole pine, edge stability, fen persistence, radiocarbon age
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Bartolome, James W.; Erman, Don C.; Schwara, Charles F. 1990. Stability and change in minerotrophic peatlands, Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada Res. Paper PSW-RP-198. Berkeley, CA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Forest and Range Experiment Station; 11 p.
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