Source Locality Effects on Restoration Potential in Sphagnum palustre L. from 3 Ohio Sites


  • Tony Miller Kent State University
  • Randall J. Mitchell University of Akron



Sphagnum, restoration, local adaptation, bog


Understanding whether propagules from different donor sources differ in their performance at a site may be important for restoration of many habitats. This study aimed at evaluating source effects in Sphagnum palustre L, a peatland moss species, for potential use in a restoration setting. Tamarack Bog, a remnant peatland in Bath Township, Ohio, is being restored. One goal is to increase Sphagnum coverage. This study focused on the dominant species of peat moss at the bog, S. palustre. To test for source effects, S. palustre and water samples were collected from 3 different locations (Mentor Marsh, Tamarack Bog, and Singer Lake) and used in 2 experiments. Plant performance was assessed by measuring growth in length and increase in mass. In the first experiment, a full factorial test was conducted: moss sampled from each location was grown directly in water collected from each location. In the second experiment—also a full factorial test—moss sampled from each location was separately grown on a uniform, commercially harvested, peat substrate and supplied with water collected from each location. In the design of both experiments, local adaptation would be indicated by better performance (both experiments measured length change and mass change, plus capitulum counts in the second experiment) for plants grown in their home water source than for plants grown in water from other sites. Ultimately, the study team did not observe evidence for local adaptation in these experiments. However, there were strong plant source effects in both experiments and some indication of differences in response to the water from different sources. Interpreting these results from a restoration standpoint, using donor plants from several source sites may improve the success of restoration.