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Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG)
Université Laval
 
Plant diversity
 
Bois-des-Bel peatland, Bas-Saint-Laurent region, Québec.

The Bois-des-Bel peatland is located in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region (47° 58' N, 69° 26' W), on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River, eastern Québec, Canada. It is located in the agricultural plain, bordered to the northwest by the St. Lawrence River and to the southeast by the Appalachian foothills, near Rivière-du-Loup. This plain is a narrow (16 km), low-altitude (0-250 m) strip of sand, silt and clay surficial marine deposits. The Bois-des-Bel bog covers an area of 202 ha, at a mean elevation of 15 m. Maximum peat thickness is 3.75 m. The vegetation of the bog is characterized by a mosaic of open or forest patches (tree basal area ranging from 0 to 42 m2/ha) dominated by black spruce, ericaceous shrubs (mainly Kalmia angustifolia, Ledum groenlandicum and Vaccinium angustifolium) and mosses (mainly Pleurozium schreberi, Sphagnum angustifolium and S. russowii). The Bois-des-Bel peatland is one of the last bogs in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region that have not been extensively mined for the production of horticultural peat. However, in 1972, a small sector (11 ha) was drained and cleared to extract peat using tractor-drawn vacuum machines. Mining of the site ended in 1980.

 

 

Mined area of the Bois-des-Bel peatland that has been restored in 1999 et 2001.

In November 1999, a multidisciplinary team of ecologists, hydrologists and biogeochemists (Peatland Ecology Research Group - PERG) pooled their expertise to conduct a long-term (>10 years) whole-ecosystem bog restoration experiment in the Bois-des-Bel peatland. Among the objectives of this restoration experiment, it has been proposed to restore the biodiversity (plants, amphibians, arthropods, birds) of the damaged site. This does not mean that the restored plant and animal assemblages would be exactly the same as those present at the site before the beginning of mining activities, but rather that the composition of plant and animal assemblages in the restored ecosystem should stay within the natural range of variability characterizing such assemblages in undisturbed bog ecosystems. Defining the 'natural range of variability' requires a large database for each taxonomic group. The Research Laboratory on Invasive Plants  has developed a huge database about the plant (vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, lichens) and animal (birds) assemblages of the Bois-des-Bel site (undisturbed area). A total of 755 sampling points for plants and 57 fixed-radius point counts for birds has been used for this survey (2000-2001). All these sampling points were registered in space and incorporated in a geographical information system.

 

 

Restored site of the Bois-des Bel peatland (S. Campeau).

The spatial distribution of each plant and bird species sampled in the undisturbed area of the Bois-des-Bel bog is presented in this web site. First, select the species group (woody plants, herbaceous plants, mosses including Sphagnum species, liverworts, lichens, birds), than click on the species to have an overview of the spatial distribution (presence/absence) of the taxon.

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