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Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia

On-line version ISSN 0718-686X


DOMINGUEZ, Erwin; BAHAMONDE, Nelson  and  MUNOZ-ESCOBAR, Christian. Effects of peat extraction on the structure and composition of Sphagnum peatland exploited and abandones for 20 years, Chile. Anales Instituto Patagonia (Chile) [online]. 2012, vol.40, n.2, pp.37-45. ISSN 0718-686X.

Magellanic Sphagnum peatlands are characterized by their ability to maintain biodiversity and water cycle of subantarctic ecosystems, together with its contribution to the global carbon storage through the slow production and accumulation of peat. Through industrial peat extraction, these wetlands have become an economic resource for the past 30 years, generating impacts on the landscape, hydrology and flora of these ecosystems. To evaluate the effects of peat extraction on peatland vegetation, we studied a Sphagnum peatland exploited 20 years ago in the locality of Río Rubens, Province of Última Esperanza, Magallanes, Chile. 42 plots of 1 m2 were studied in order to determine differences in species composition and plant coverage. In total 24 taxa were identified, 8 of these were alien to the study area, all classified as invasive. Significant differences where found in floristic composition between the exploited and non exploitedares. The mechanical modification of the area, as a result of peat extraction and construction of drainage channels, favors the arrival of exotic flora specimens such as Rumex acetosella, Carex canescens, Holcus lanatus and Hieracium pilosella.

Keywords : Flora; Invasive plants; Wetlands; Sphagnum peatland; Peat; Southern Patagonia.

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