Photosynthetic performance in Sphagnum transplanted along a latitudinal nitrogen deposition gradient

G. Granath, J. Strengbom, A.J.G. Breeuwer, M.M.P.D. Heijmans, F. Berendse, H. Rydin

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58 Citations (Scopus)


Increased N deposition in Europe has affected mire ecosystems. However, knowledge on the physiological responses is poor. We measured photosynthetic responses to increasing N deposition in two peatmoss species (Sphagnum balticum and Sphagnum fuscum) from a 3-year, north-south transplant experiment in northern Europe, covering a latitudinal N deposition gradient ranging from 0.28 g N m(-2) year(-1) in the north, to 1.49 g N m(-2) year(-1) in the south. The maximum photosynthetic rate (NPmax) increased southwards, and was mainly explained by tissue N concentration, secondly by allocation of N to the photosynthesis, and to a lesser degree by modified photosystem II activity (variable fluorescence/maximum fluorescence yield). Although climatic factors may have contributed, these results were most likely attributable to an increase in N deposition southwards. For S. fuscum, photosynthetic rate continued to increase up to a deposition level of 1.49 g N m(-2) year(-1), but for S. balticum it seemed to level out at 1.14 g N m(-2) year(-1). The results for S. balticum suggested that transplants from different origin (with low or intermediate N deposition) respond differently to high N deposition. This indicates that Sphagnum species may be able to adapt or physiologically adjust to high N deposition. Our results also suggest that S. balticum might be more sensitive to N deposition than S. fuscum. Surprisingly, NPmax was not (S. balticum), or only weakly (S. fuscum) correlated with biomass production, indicating that production is to a great extent is governed by factors other than the photosynthetic capacity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-715
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • atmospheric nitrogen
  • n deposition
  • boreal mire
  • chlorophyll fluorescence
  • physiological-responses
  • parasitic fungus
  • water-content
  • growth
  • mosses
  • vegetation


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