Aquatic Sciences

, 80:20 | Cite as

Changes in dissolved organic matter and microbial activity in runoff waters of boreal mires after restoration

  • Noora Räsänen
  • Paula Kankaala
  • Teemu Tahvanainen
  • Jarkko Akkanen
  • Sanna Saarnio
Research article


A considerable proportion of boreal mires have been drained for soil amelioration purposes. In response to drainage-induced degradation, restoration practices have been implemented in recent decades. Restoration by raising the water level is often followed by changes in the quality of runoff waters, especially in concentrations of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (total P, PO4-P). We studied how mire restoration affected bacterial production (BP), bacterial growth efficiency (BGE%) and respiration (R) in mire runoff waters from spruce swamps and Sphagnum pine bogs in south-central Finland. The quality of runoff water was monitored for 8 years (2008–2015) and bacterial activity was measured during 3 years (2010–2012) at runoff weir sites, including two pristine controls, one drained control and four treatment sites. The concentrations of DOC, N and P increased for 3–5 years after restoration. The increased availability of nutrients was followed by doubled BP (from ca. 0.34 to 0.88 µmol C L−1 d−1, averages of restored sites) and BGE% (from ca. 2.7 to 9.2%), whereas microbial respiration was only slightly increased. However, bacterial activity in mire waters was low compared with those generally measured in river and lake waters. This was presumably related to the recalcitrant quality of the mire-originated DOC, which was not clearly influenced by restoration. Dissolved organic matter (DOM) of low bioavailability contributes to browning of headwaters. As our study was focused only on short-term (1–5 years) effects, more research is needed for evaluating long-term impacts of peatland origin DOM on carbon fluxes, microbial activity and food webs of recipient aquatic ecosystems.


Bacterial production Bacterial respiration DOC Mire restoration Nitrogen Phosphorus 



This study was funded by the Maa- ja vesitekniikan tuki ry and Maj and Tor Nessling foundation. Assistance for the sampling was provided by the Natural Heritage Services of Finland and Pekka Vesterinen (Metsähallitus). Thanks to the former laboratory of the Ecological Research Institute, and to Marja Noponen and Leena Pääkkönen for help with the laboratory analyses. We are also grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their suggestions improving the manuscript.

Supplementary material

27_2018_569_MOESM1_ESM.docx (13 kb)
Supplementary Table 1. The grid co-ordinates of the study sites in the Parks and Wildlife Finland monitoring program (DOCX 12 KB)
27_2018_569_MOESM2_ESM.docx (34 kb)
Suppl. Table 2. Precipitation sum (mm) during May-November and the average concentration (±SD) of dissolved organic carbon (DOC), total nitrogen (TN), nitrite-nitrate (NO2-NO3-N), ammonium (NH4-N), total phosphorus (TP) and phosphate (PO4-P) at the study sites in 2008–2015. ResSp, ResB1 and ResB2 were restored (bold text) at the end of 2010 and ResB3 at the end of 2011 (DOCX 33 KB)
27_2018_569_MOESM3_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Suppl. Table 3. Annual average (±SE) values of qualitative characteristics of dissolved organic matter (DOM) at the study sites: SUVA254, absorbance at 254 nm (a254), absorbance ratio a254/a356 based on spectrometric measurements and the percentage of the large molecular fraction analyzed with High-performance Size Exclusion Chromatography (HPSEC). The values for post-restoration years are in bold. Annual within-site differences were tested with one-way ANOVA. Different superscript letters denote significant differences between the study years (Tukey’s post hoc test). Model predicted vs. residual plots were visually inspected in each case and no serious deviation from normality were found. The analyses are not strictly valid in a statistical sense as the assumptions of independence of observations were neglected (DOCX 26 KB)
27_2018_569_MOESM4_ESM.docx (38 kb)
Suppl. Table 4. Pearson correlation (Corr.) coefficients from the bog sites (ResB1, -2 and -3, NatB and DrB). The Pearson correlation is significant at **0.01 and *0.05. The correlation coefficients are not strictly valid in a statistical sense as the assumptions of independence of observations were neglected in these analyses (DOCX 37 KB)
27_2018_569_MOESM5_ESM.docx (37 kb)
Suppl. Table 5. Pearson correlation (Corr.) coefficients from the spruce swamp sites (ResSp and NatSp). The Pearson correlation is significant at **0.01 and *0.05. The correlation coefficients are not strictly valid in a statistical sense as the assumptions of independence of observations were neglected in these analyses (DOCX 36 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Noora Räsänen
    • 1
  • Paula Kankaala
    • 1
  • Teemu Tahvanainen
    • 1
  • Jarkko Akkanen
    • 1
  • Sanna Saarnio
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental and Biological SciencesUniversity of Eastern FinlandJoensuuFinland

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