Towards developing a functional-based approach for constructed peatlands evaluation in the Alberta Oil Sands Region, Canada

Felix Nwaishi, Richard M. Petrone, Jonathan S. Price, Roxane Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Peatlands support vital ecosystem services such as
water regulation, specific habitat provisions and carbon storage.
In Canada, anthropogenic disturbance from energy exploration
has undermined the capacity of peatlands to support
these vital ecosystem services, and thus presents the need for
their reclamation to a functional ecosystem. As attempts are
now being made to implement reclamation plans on postmining
oil sands landscapes, a major challenge remains in
the absence of a standard framework for evaluating the functional
state of a constructed peatland. To address this challenge,
we present a functional-based approach that can guide
the evaluation of constructed peatlands in the Alberta oil sands
region. We achieved this by conducting a brief review, which
synthesized the dominant processes of peatland functional development
in natural analogues. Through the synthesis, we
identified the interaction and feedback processes that underline
various peatland ecosystem functions and their quantifiable
variables. By exploring the mechanism of key ecosystem
interactions, we highlighted the sensitivity of microbially mediated
biogeochemical processes to a range of variability in
other ecosystem functions, and thus the appropriateness of
using them as functional indicators of ecosystem condition.
Following the verification of this concept through current pilot
fen reclamation projects, we advocate the need for further
research towards modification to a more cost-efficient approach
that can be applicable to large-scale fen reclamation
projects in this region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-225
JournalWetlands
Volume35
Issue number2
Early online date19 Jan 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Alberta Oil Sands
  • Biogeochemical Processes
  • Constructed peatlands
  • Ecosystem functions
  • Restoration Evaluation

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