Nitrogen and phosphorus in mire plants: variation during 50 years in relation to supply rate and vegetation type
Förlag: Blackwell Publishing
Southern Sweden has long been exposed to an increasing atmospheric nitrogen deposition. We investigated the effects of this supply on the Sphagnum mire vegetation in SW Gotaland by comparing above-ground tissue concentrations of N and P and biomass variables in five vascular plant and two Sphagnum species collected during three periods since 1955 at 81 sites representing three vegetation types, viz. ombrotrophic bog, extremely poor fen and moderately poor fen, within two areas differing in annual N deposition. The N:P ratios in the plants were rarely below 17, suggesting P as the growth-limiting mineral nutrient. In the vascular plants both growth and concentrations of N and P were highest in the moderately poor fen sites because of a higher mineralization rate, the differences between the extremely poor fen and bog sites being smaller in these respects. In the extremely poor fen and bog sites the N concentrations were slightly higher in the area with the highest N deposition. From 1955 to 2002 the concentration of N in the Sphagnum spp. increased proportionally to the supply rate while P remained constant. In the vascular plants the concentrations of P remained constant while N showed slightly decreasing trends in the bog and extremely poor fen sites, but since the size of the plants increased the biomass content of N and P increased, too. The increased N deposition has had its greatest effects on the site types with the highest Sphagnum biomass and peat accumulation rate. The high N concentration in the Sphagnum mosses probably reduced their competitiveness and facilitated the observed expansion of vascular plants. However, the increased N deposition might also have triggered an increased mineralization in the acrotelm increasing the supply of P to the vascular plants and thus also their productivity. This may also explain the slightly higher productivity among the vascular plants in the area with the highest N deposition rate. In conclusion, it seems as the increased N deposition has directly influenced only the growth of the Sphagnum mosses and that the effects on the growth of the vascular plants are indirect.
- Biology and Life Sciences
- ISSN: 0030-1299