Alkaline wetlands and fens are groundwater dependent, terrestrial ecosystems (GWDTEs) existing throughout the temperate zone. They contain a large number of protected and endangered plant species and their ecological status is threatened by insufficient groundwater quality and quantity. However, management and conservation of fens are constrained by limited knowledge on the relations between vegetation and measurable hydrological conditions. This study investigates the relations between vegetation and water level dynamics in groundwater dependent wetlands in Denmark. A total of 35 wetland sites across Denmark were included in the study. The sites represent a continuum of wetlands with respect to vegetation and hydrological conditions. Water level was measured continuously using pressure transducers at each site. Metrics expressing different hydrological characteristics, such as mean water level and low and high water level periods, were calculated based on the water level time series. A complete plant species list was recorded in plots covering 78.5 m 2 at each site. Community metrics such as total number of species and the number of bryophytes were generated from the species lists and Ellenberg Indicator scores of moisture, pH and nutrients were calculated for each site. The water level correlates with the number of typical fen species of vascular plants, whereas bryophytes are closer connected to the stable water level conditions provided by groundwater seepage. The water level variability is proved to be a significant limiting factor for species diversity in wetlands, which should be considered along with the fertility in order to access the habitat quality. The study provides new insight in the water level preferences for GWDTEs which is highly needed in the management and assessment of anthropogenic damage to these ecosystems.
Bibliographical noteSpecial Issue on Aquatic interfaces and linkages: An emerging topic of interdisciplinary research
- Alkaline wetlands
- Ellenberg indicator values