Background and aim
Although ombrotrophic peatlands are nutrient deficient, it is not clear to what extent plants will respond to changes in nutrient availability.
We examined the changes in foliar stoichiometry and species abundance of four shrub species and moss after a decade of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertilization at the Mer Bleue bog, eastern Canada.
Shrub abundance increased and moss cover decreased after fertilization with 6.4, 5 and 6.3 g m−2 yr−1 of N, P and K, respectively; foliar concentrations of N, P, K and calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) were affected. Stoichiometry showed mainly N limitation after P and K fertilization and P (co)limitation after high levels of N addition in shrubs; moss showed consistent K or KN-co-limitation, even with PK and NPK additions. Shrubs exhibited the strongest homeostasis (the maintenance of an organism’s tissue chemical composition with changes in environmental resources) to N, with the homeostatic regulation coefficient (H) > 9.7, compared to 1.4 in moss. For P and K, shrubs showed weaker homeostasis than N, while moss had a stronger homeostasis.
The strong homeostasis of shrubs may be an adaptive strategy to limited availability of soil N and P.
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We gratefully acknowledge the laboratory assistance of Hicham Benslim, Leanne Elchyshyn, Kellie Foster, Hélène Lalande, Sheng-Ting Lin and Cheenar Shah, and the field assistance of Corinne Magnusson, Mike Dalva and Vi Bui. MW was awarded a Ph.D. fellowship by the Chinese Scholarship Council and this research was funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant to TRM and a National Science Foundation grant (DEB 1019523) to JLB. Additional funding was received from the Academy of Finland (Projects 286731, 293365 to TL) and the Start-up Funds (Z109021502) of Northwest A&F University to MW. We thank the National Capital Commission for access to Mer Bleue.
Responsible Editor: Etienne Laliberté.
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Wang, M., Larmola, T., Murphy, M.T. et al. Stoichiometric response of shrubs and mosses to long-term nutrient (N, P and K) addition in an ombrotrophic peatland. Plant Soil 400, 403–416 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11104-015-2744-6