The role of microtopography in the assessment of ecological condition on lowland raised bogs of conservation importance
The principal aim of this thesis is to investigate relationships between the hydrology, ecology and vegetative microtopography of lowland raised mires, using data collected from two sites in Cumbria: Bolton Fell Moss and Walton Moss. The sites were chosen for study as they provided a contrast between the almost pristine condition of Walton Moss and the heavily modified Bolton Fell Moss, which has a long history of mechanised peat cutting. The study uses data collected from the two sites over a four year monitoring period between 2004 and 2007. Depth to water table data was obtained from five dipwell transects, complemented by seven automated loggers to provide temporal variation. A series of corresponding vegetation quadrats were established to inform ecological condition. The applicability of using remotely sensed LiDAR data to determine bog hydro-ecological condition was considered. The variation in LiDAR spot heights in 20m2 plots associated with the dipwells was used to provide an indicator of topographic variability at that location. Topographic variability was also directly measured by measuring spot heights across a corresponding 2m2 plot using differential GPS surveying equipment.