A before-after-control approach was used to analyze the impact of peatland restoration on hydrology, based on high temporal resolution water-table (WT) data from 43 boreal peatlands representative of a south-boreal to north-boreal climate gradient. During the study, 24 forestry drained sites were restored and 19 pristine peatlands used as control sites. Different approaches were developed and used to analyze WT changes (mean WT position, WT fluctuation, WT hydrograph, recession, and storage characteristics). Restoration increased WT in most cases but particularly in spruce mires, followed by pine mires and fens. Before restoration, the WT fluctuation (WTF) was large, indicating peat temporary storage gain (SG). After restoration, the WT hydrograph recession limb slopes and SG coefficients (Rc) declined significantly. Drainage or restoration did not significantly affect mean diurnal WT fluctuations, used here as a proxy for evapotranspiration. Overall, the changes in WT characteristics following restoration indicated creation of favorable hydrological conditions for recovery of functional peatland ecosystems in previously degraded peatland sites. This was supported by calculation of bryophyte species abundance thresholds for WT. These results can be used to optimize restoration efforts in different peatland systems and as a qualitative conceptual basis for future restoration operations. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
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