Main content area

A graphical approach for documenting peatland hydrodiversity and orienting land management strategies

Rosa, Eric, Dallaire, Pierre‐Luc, Nadeau, Simon, Cloutier, Vincent, Veillette, Jean, van Bellen, Simon, Larocque, Marie
Hydrological processes 2018 v.32 no.7 pp. 873-890
aquifers, base flow, clay, geographic information systems, groundwater flow, hydrochemistry, land management, models, peatlands, runoff, spatial data, streams, surface water, Canada
This study focuses on the development of an approach to document the hydrological characteristics of peatlands and understand their potential influence on runoff processes and groundwater flow dynamics. Spatial calculations were performed using geographic information systems data in order to evaluate the distribution of peatlands according to (a) neighbouring hydrogeological units and (b) their position within the hydrographic network. The data obtained from these calculations were plotted in a multiple trilinear diagram (two ternary plots projected into a diamond‐shaped diagram) that illustrates the position of a given peatland within the hydrogeological environment. The data allow for the segregation of peatlands according to groups sharing similarities as well as the identification of peatlands that are most likely to have similar hydrological functions. The approach was tested in a 19,549 km² region of the southern portion of the Barlow‐Ojibway Clay Belt (in Abitibi‐Témiscamingue, Canada) and lead to a conceptual model representing the hydrological interactions between peatlands, aquifers, and surface waters. This approach allows for a geographic information systems‐based differentiation of headwater peatland complexes that are likely to interact with aquifers and to supply continuous baseflow to small streams from lowland peatland complexes of the clay plain that are isolated from surrounding aquifers but that can act as storage reservoirs within the hydrographic network. The typology is further used to discuss land management strategies aimed at preserving peatland hydrodiversity within the study region. The proposed approach relies on widely applicable hydrogeological and hydrographic criteria and provides a tool that could be used for assessing peatland hydrodiversity in other regions of the planet.