, Volume 7, Issue 8, pp 793–804

How Phosphorus Availability Affects the Impact of Nitrogen Deposition on Sphagnum and Vascular Plants in Bogs



To elucidate the impact of high nitrogen (N) deposition on intact bog vegetation, as affected by phosphorus (P) availability, we conducted a 4-year fertilization experiment with N and P at six sites, one with moderate N deposition and five with high N deposition. During the growing season, N (40 kg ha−1 ya−1), P (3 kg ha−1 y−1), or a combination of both elements was applied to the vegetation. The fertilization effects turned out to be additive in nature. Adding P decreased the inorganic N concentration and increased the P concentration in the rhizosphere at two sites. Furthermore, P stimulated Sphagnum growth and Sphagnum net primary productivity (NPP) at two sites; it also seemed to encourage growth at two other sites including the moderate-deposition site. Vascular plant growth remained largely unaffected but was depressed at one high-deposition site. Adding N increased the concentration of inorganic N in the rhizosphere at the moderate-deposition site and at two of the three high-deposition sites; vascular plant growth and litter production were encouraged at three high-deposition sites. The addition of N depressed Sphagnum height increment at four high deposition sites and reduced Sphagnum NPP at two sites. Shading by vascular plants was of minor importance in explaining the negative effects of N on Sphagnum. We conclude that because P alleviates the negative impact N has on Sphagnum by enhancing its capability to assimilate the deposited N, P availability is a major factor determining the impact of N deposition on Sphagnum production and thus on carbon sequestration in bogs.


bryophytes competition deposition nutrient limitation nitrogen phosphorus raised bogs shrub–moss competition; Sphagnum 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology GroupWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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