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Limpens J.,Wageningen University | Granath G.,Uppsala University | Aerts R.,University of Amsterdam | Heijmans M.M.P.D.,Wageningen University | And 31 more authors.
New Phytologist | Year: 2012

• Peat bogs have accumulated more atmospheric carbon (C) than any other terrestrial ecosystem today. Most of this C is associated with peat moss (Sphagnum) litter. Atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition can decrease Sphagnum production, compromising the C sequestration capacity of peat bogs. The mechanisms underlying the reduced production are uncertain, necessitating multifactorial experiments. • We investigated whether glasshouse experiments are reliable proxies for field experiments for assessing interactions between N deposition and environment as controls on Sphagnum N concentration and production. We performed a meta-analysis over 115 glasshouse experiments and 107 field experiments. • We found that glasshouse and field experiments gave similar qualitative and quantitative estimates of changes in Sphagnum N concentration in response to N application. However, glasshouse-based estimates of changes in production - even qualitative assessments - diverged from field experiments owing to a stronger N effect on production response in absence of vascular plants in the glasshouse, and a weaker N effect on production response in presence of vascular plants compared to field experiments. • Thus, although we need glasshouse experiments to study how interacting environmental factors affect the response of Sphagnum to increased N deposition, we need field experiments to properly quantify these effects. © 2012 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2012 New Phytologist Trust.


Limpens J.,Wageningen University | Granath G.,Uppsala University | Gunnarsson U.,Uppsala University | Aerts R.,University of Amsterdam | And 28 more authors.
New Phytologist | Year: 2011

Peatlands in the northern hemisphere have accumulated more atmospheric carbon (C) during the Holocene than any other terrestrial ecosystem, making peatlands long-term C sinks of global importance. Projected increases in nitrogen (N) deposition and temperature make future accumulation rates uncertain. Here, we assessed the impact of N deposition on peatland C sequestration potential by investigating the effects of experimental N addition on Sphagnum moss. We employed meta-regressions to the results of 107 field experiments, accounting for sampling dependence in the data. We found that high N loading (comprising N application rate, experiment duration, background N deposition) depressed Sphagnum production relative to untreated controls. The interactive effects of presence of competitive vascular plants and high tissue N concentrations indicated intensified biotic interactions and altered nutrient stochiometry as mechanisms underlying the detrimental N effects. Importantly, a higher summer temperature (mean for July) and increasedannual precipitation intensified the negative effects of N. The temperature effect was comparable to an experimental application of almost 4gNm-2yr-1 for each 1°C increase. Our results indicate that current rates of N deposition in a warmer environment will strongly inhibit C sequestration by Sphagnum-dominated vegetation. © 2011 The Authors. New Phytologist © 2011 New Phytologist Trust.

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