Polar Biology

, Volume 41, Issue 11, pp 2311–2321 | Cite as

Reconstruction of annual growth in relation to summer temperatures and translocation of nutrients in the aquatic moss Drepanocladus trifarius from West Greenland

  • Kirstine ThiemerEmail author
  • Ditte Marie Christiansen
  • Nanna Slaikjer Petersen
  • Simone Møller Mortensen
  • Kirsten Seestern Christoffersen
Original Paper


Mosses often dominate the submerged vegetation in Arctic lakes and ponds, making them essential contributors to the primary production in these habitats. However, little is known about the factors controlling annual growth of Arctic mosses and their sensitivity to climatic changes. It has been suggested that nutrient translocation occurs in mosses, and that annual growth of mosses therefore depends strongly on weather conditions and less on local environmental conditions. In this study, we examined annual growth of Drepanocladus trifarius ((F. Weber and D. Mohr) Broth.) from two ponds in West Greenland in relation to weather conditions. A reconstruction of annual growth increments from 2009 to 2014 was made in 200 individual mosses, and biomass and length were related to different weather parameters. In addition, we examined whether there would be an indication of nutrient translocation across annual growth segments. We found a positive relationship between mean summer temperature and growth segment length, which indicates the importance of temperature during seasons with sufficient light levels for growth of the D. trifarius. Weather parameters associated with light conditions had no significant effect on growth, which probably reflect that D. trifarius in two shallow ponds were not light limited. The nutrient stoichiometry showed that phosphorus (P) contents in the tissue were low (0.04–0.11% DW), and nutrient resorption efficiencies of P amounted to 11–29%. This suggests that D. trifarius was P limited during its growth season, but appears capable of nutrient translocation across annual segments, possibly to maintain growth in oligotrophic environments. Despite low nitrogen (N) contents (0.94–2.09%), no resorption of N was found, which indicates that D. trifarius was not N-limited in order to sustain growth. In conclusion, this study shows that growth of D. trifarius in small high Arctic ponds are mainly controlled by summer temperatures.


Aquatic moss Drepanocladus trifarius Annual growth Arctic ponds Climate change Nutrient resorption 



We want to thank the Staff at Arctic Station for providing weather data, Tenna Riis (Aarhus University) for guidance in sampling of mosses and Klaus P. Brodersen for providing photos of high quality. We are grateful to Irene Bisang and Lars Hedenäs (Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm) and Kristian Hassel (Natural History University Museum, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim) for their assistance with identifying D. trifarius. Finally, we would like to thank Irene Bisang for invaluable comments on an early version of the manuscript, Fionn Murphy for linguistic corrections and three anonymous reviewers for improving the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

We have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supplementary material

300_2018_2371_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (257 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 256 kb)
300_2018_2371_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (230 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 230 kb)
300_2018_2371_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (160 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 159 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirstine Thiemer
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Ditte Marie Christiansen
    • 1
  • Nanna Slaikjer Petersen
    • 1
  • Simone Møller Mortensen
    • 1
  • Kirsten Seestern Christoffersen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Freshwater Biology Section, Department of BiologyUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark
  2. 2.Arctic BiologyUniversity Centre in SvalbardSvalbardNorway
  3. 3.Section for Stream and Wetland Ecology, Department of BioscienceAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark

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