Positive trends in plant, dragonfly, and butterfly diversity of rewetted montane peatlands

Katharina Strobl, Christoph Moning, Johannes Kollmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Drainage and afforestation of peatlands cause extensive habitat degradation and species losses. Restoration supports peatland biodiversity by creating suitable habitat conditions, including stable high water tables. However, colonization by characteristic species can take decades or even fail. Peatland recovery is often monitored shortly after restoration, but initial trends may not continue, and results might differ among taxonomic groups. This study analyzes trends in plant, dragonfly, and butterfly diversity within 18 years after rewetting of montane peatlands in central Germany. We compared diversity and species composition of 19 restored sites with three drained peatlands and one near-natural reference site. Restoration resulted in improved habitat conditions and benefited species diversity, but there were marked differences among taxonomic groups. Dragonflies rapidly colonized small water bodies but their diversity did not further increase in older restoration sites. Characteristic peatland vegetation recovered slowly, since it depended on a high water holding capacity that was only reached after peat started accumulating. Generally, plant diversity developed toward reference conditions albeit incompletely, even 18 years after restoration. Butterflies responded less to peatland restoration; generalists increased only temporarily and specialists could not establish. In conclusion, peatland restoration improves habitat conditions and biodiversity, while trajectories of recovery are nonlinear and incomplete after two decades. This highlights the need for long-term monitoring and a strategic selection of indicator species for evaluation of restoration success.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)796-806
Number of pages11
JournalRestoration Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2020


  • Lepidoptera
  • Odonata
  • peatland recovery
  • restoration monitoring
  • species diversity
  • succession


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