Animal Colonization of Restored Peatlands: Inoculation of Plant Material as a Source of Insects
Ecological restoration of mined peatlands in North America involves active reintroduction of bog plant species. Animals are not actively reintroduced, thus the re-establishment of peatland fauna must occur either by inoculation along with introduced plant material or by dispersal. We examined the extent to which insects are reintroduced to restored sites with plant material by rearing insects from shredded vegetation collected in three donor sites. We assessed differences in abundance, diversity, and composition of taxonomic and trophic groups among seasons and sites. Abundance and species richness did not differ by season, but species assemblages did. The three sites were significantly different in abundance, but not in species richness and assemblages. Few insects emerged from the vegetation, suggesting that shredded plant material may not be the primary source of insect colonists. Insects likely recolonize by active or passive dispersal from the surrounding area. The species pool was similar among donor sites; consequently a mined site could be inoculated with vegetation from another peatland in the same region and this would not affect the insect assemblages at the initial stage of establishment. Diapause may be a major factor for emergence success among seasons of collection. Knowledge of how restoration techniques influence establishment of insect communities will help predict longer-term outcomes of restoration on biotic communities in peatlands.