N deposition affects N availability i n interstitial water, growth of Sphagnum and invasion of vascular plants in bog vegetation

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We studied the effects of N deposition on shrub-moss competition and the establishment and growth of invasive Betula pubescens and Molinia caerulea in intact bog vegetation removed from a site subject to 40 kg N ha(-1) yr(-1). Mesocosms with and without introduced Betula seedlings and Molinia sprouts were kept under a roof and received an equivalent of 0, 40 and 80 kg N ha(-1) yr(-1) for two growing seasons. N concentration in both interstitial water and Sphagnum decreased when N input ceased and increased when N input was doubled. Molinia biomass was positively related to the inorganic N concentration in the interstitial water. Adding N increased production of Molinia and prolonged survival of Betula seedlings in the first year. Sphagnum height increment showed a hump-shaped relationship with light interception by vascular plants. N deposition encouraged vascular plants to grow by enhancing N availability in the rhizosphere. Water table level and the availability of P were found to be important in explaining species-specific responses to N deposition. The underlying mechanisms and the reversibility of N effects are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-347
JournalNew Phytologist
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2003



  • atmospheric nitrogen
  • litter decomposition
  • ecosystems
  • accumulation
  • mire
  • fertilization
  • peatlands
  • heathland
  • fate

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