, Volume 167, Issue 4, pp 1115–1125 | Cite as

Sphagnum growth and ecophysiology during mire succession

  • Anna M. Laine
  • Eija Juurola
  • Tomáš Hájek
  • Eeva-Stiina Tuittila
Ecosystem ecology - Original Paper


Sphagnum mosses are widespread in areas where mires exist and constitute a globally important carbon sink. Their ecophysiology is known to be related to the water level, but very little is currently known about the successional trend in Sphagnum. We hypothesized that moss species follow the known vascular plant growth strategy along the successional gradient (i.e., decrease in production and maximal photosynthesis while succession proceeds). To address this hypothesis, we studied links between the growth and related ecophysiological processes of Sphagnum mosses from a time-since-initiation chronosequence of five wetlands. We quantified the rates of increase in biomass and length of different Sphagnum species in relation to their CO2 assimilation rates, their photosynthetic light reaction efficiencies, and their physiological states, as measured by the chlorophyll fluorescence method. In agreement with our hypothesis, increase in biomass and CO2 exchange rate of Sphagnum mosses decreased along the successional gradient, following the tactics of more intensely studied vascular plants. Mosses at the young and old ends of the chronosequence showed indications of downregulation, measured as a low ratio between variable and maximum fluorescence (F v/F m). Our study divided the species into three groups; pioneer species, hollow species, and ombrotrophic hummock formers. The pioneer species S. fimbriatum is a ruderal plant that occurred at the first sites along the chronosequence, which were characterized by low stress but high disturbance. Hollow species are competitive plants that occurred at sites with low stress and low disturbance (i.e., in the wet depressions in the middle and at the old end of the chronosequence). Ombrotrophic hummock species are stress-tolerant plants that occurred at sites with high stress and low disturbance (i.e., at the old end of the chronosequence). The three groups along the mire successional gradient appeared to be somewhat analogous to the three primary strategies suggested by Grime.


Photosynthesis Chlorophyll fluorescence Meadow Fen Bog Bog moss Successional gradient 



We thank Sanna Ehonen for her help with the measurements and David Wilson for revising the English language of the manuscript. The work was mainly funded by the Academy of Finland (code 131409). Financial support for A.L. (from the University of Oulu and University of Helsinki), for T.H. (Research Plan AV0Z60050516), for E.J. (from the HENVI unit of the University of Helsinki), and for E.S.T. (Academy of Finland, code 218101) is acknowledged.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna M. Laine
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Eija Juurola
    • 2
  • Tomáš Hájek
    • 3
  • Eeva-Stiina Tuittila
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyUniversity of OuluOuluFinland
  2. 2.Department of Forest ScienceUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Institute of BotanyCzech Academy of SciencesTřeboňCzech Republic
  4. 4.Department of Forest ScienceUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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