, Volume 166, Issue 2, pp 555–563 | Cite as

Direct and interaction-mediated effects of environmental changes on peatland bryophytes

  • Zhao-Jun Bu
  • Håkan RydinEmail author
  • Xu Chen
Community ecology - Original Paper


Ecosystem processes of northern peatlands are largely governed by the vitality and species composition in the bryophyte layer, and may be affected by global warming and eutrophication. In a factorial experiment in northeast China, we tested the effects of raised levels of nitrogen (0, 1 and 2 g m−2 year−1), phosphorus (0, 0.1 and 0.2 g m−2 year−1) and temperature (ambient and +3°C) on Polytrichum strictum, Sphagnum magellanicum and S. palustre, to see if the effects could be altered by inter-specific interactions. In all species, growth declined with nitrogen addition and increased with phosphorus addition, but only P. strictum responded to raised temperature with increased production of side-shoots (branching). In Sphagnum, growth and branching changed in the same direction, but in Polytrichum, the two responses were uncoupled: with nitrogen addition there was a decrease in growth (smaller than in Sphagnum) but an increase in branching; with phosphorus addition growth increased but branching was unaffected. There were no two-way interactions among the P, N and T treatments. With increasing temperature, our results indicate that S. palustre should decrease relative to P. strictum (Polytrichum increased its branching and had a negative neighbor effect on S. palustre). With a slight increase in phosphorus availability, the increase in length growth and production of side-shoots in P. strictum and S. magellanicum may give them a competitive superiority over S. palustre. The negative response in Sphagnum to nitrogen could favor the expansion of vascular plants, but P. strictum may endure thanks to its increased branching.


Branching Inter-specific interaction Polytrichum Sphagnum Warming 



This study was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of China (contract No. 30700055 and No. 40971036), The National Grand Fundamental Research 973 Program of China (No. 2009CB426305), the Training Fund of NENU’S Scientific Innovation Project (contract No. NENU-STB07002) and the Swedish Research Council Formas. We thank Xiangjun Meng and Gaolin Zhao for open top chamber preparation, Yuxin Jiao and Gaolin Zhao for bryophyte samples preparation, Lihong Jiang, Yuan Tang, Chunquan Wang, Jinbin Xu, Yi Han and Luwu Xie for fertilization, and Zhiwei Xu, Meijuan Zhou and others for the laboratory work. Lennart Norell, Wei Gao and Lei Shi helped us with the statistical analysis. Urban Gunnarsson, Joachim Strengbom and Sebastian Sundberg kindly commented on the manuscript. The experiment complies with all laws of the People’s Republic of China, where it was performed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Environmental Protection Key Laboratory of Wetland Ecology and Vegetation Restoration, Institute for Peat and Mire ResearchNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory for Vegetation Ecology, Ministry of Education, Institute of Grassland SciencesNortheast Normal UniversityChangchunChina
  3. 3.Department of Plant Ecology, Evolutionary Biology CentreUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.Nanjing Institute of Geography and LimnologyChinese Academy of SciencesNanjingChina

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