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Effects of elevated carbon dioxide and increased nitrogen deposition on bog vegetation in the Netherlands

Heijmans, M.M.P.D., Berendse, F., Arp, W.J., Masselink, A.K., Klees, H., Visser, W. de., Breemen, N. van.
Journal of ecology 2001 v.89 no.2 pp. 268-279
height, plant characteristics, Sphagnum, bogs, vegetation, nitrogen, Sphagnum magellanicum, plants, biomass, dry matter partitioning, botanical composition, plant competition, Drosera, Eriophorum, Erica tetralix, carbon dioxide, ammonium nitrate, Vaccinium oxycoccos, Netherlands
1. We studied the effects of elevated atmospheric CO2 and increased N deposition on the plant species composition of a Sphagnum-dominated bog ecosystem in the Netherlands. Large peat monoliths (surface area 1 m2, depth 0.6 m) with intact bog vegetation were kept outdoors in large containers and were exposed to elevated CO2 or increased N deposition for three growing seasons. Elevated CO2 conditions (target concentration 560 micromol CO2 mol(-1)) were created using MiniFACE technology. In a separate experiment, N deposition was increased by 5 g N m(-2) year(-1) by adding dissolved NH4NO3 at 3 week intervals during the growing season. 2. Elevated atmospheric CO2 increased height growth of Sphagnum magellanicum, the dominant Sphagnum species, in the second and third growing seasons. Vascular plant biomass was not significantly affected by elevated CO2, but growth of species growing close to the moss surface was influenced negatively by the increased Sphagnum height growth. Elevated CO2 did not change allocation to below-ground plant parts. 3. Adding N increased above-ground vascular plant biomass. The shallow-rooted species Vaccinium oxycoccus responded most to the increased N deposition. Sphagnum growth was significantly reduced in the third growing season. This reduction was likely the result of the increased vascular plant cover, given the observed negative relation between vascular plant cover and Sphagnum growth. 4. The observed shifts in species composition as a result of species-specific responses to treatments, and interactions between peat mosses and vascular plants will have important consequences for the sequestration of carbon in the bog ecosystem.