Conservation and restoration of fens and fen meadows often aim to reduce soil nutrients, mainly nitrogen (N) andphosphorus (P). The biogeochemistry of P has received much attention as P-enrichment is expected to negatively impact on species diversity in wetlands. It is known that N, sulphur (S) and hydrological conditions affect the biogeochemistry of P, yet their interactive effects on P-dynamics are largely unknown. Additionally, in Europe, climate change has been predicted to lead to increases in summer drought. We performed a greenhouse experiment to elucidate the interactive effects of N, S and a single drought event on the P-availability for Phalaris arundinacea. Additionally, the response of plant phosphatase activity to these factors was measured over the two year experimental period. In contrast to results from earlier experiments, our treatments hardly affected soil P-availability. This may be explained by the higher pH in our soils, hampering the formation of Fe-P or Fe-Al complexes. Addition of S, however, decreased the plants N:P ratio, indicating an effect of S on the N:P stoichiometry and an effect on the plant's P-demand. Phosphatase activity increased significantly after addition of S, but was not affected by the addition of N or a single drought event. Root phosphatase activity was also positively related to plant tissue N and P concentrations, plant N and P uptake, and plant aboveground biomass, suggesting that the phosphatase enzyme influences P-biogeochemistry. Our results demonstrated that it is difficult to predict the effects of wetland restoration, since the involved mechanisms are not fully understood. Short-term and long-term effects on root phosphatase activity may differ considerably. Additionally, the addition of S can lead to unexpected effects on the biogeochemistry of P. Our results showed that natural resource managers should be careful when restoring degraded fens or preventing desiccation of fen ecosystems.
- fresh-water wetlands
- species richness
- phosphorus limitation
Robroek, B. J. M., Adema, E. B., Venterink, H. O., Leonardson, L., & Wassen, M. J. (2009). How nitrogen and sulphur addition, and a single drought event affect root phosphatase activity in Phalaris arundinacea. Science of the Total Environment, 407(7), 2342-2348. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.11.046