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Biochemical determinants of litter quality in 15 species of Sphagnum
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Plant Ecology and Evolution.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Plant Ecology and Evolution.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7582-3998
Univ South Bohemia, Dept Expt Plant Biol, Fac Sci, Branisovska 1760, CZ-37005 Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic;Czech Acad Sci, Inst Bot, Dept Funct Ecol, Dukelska 135, CZ-37982 Trebon, Czech Republic.
2018 (English)In: Plant and Soil, ISSN 0032-079X, E-ISSN 1573-5036, Vol. 425, no 1-2, p. 161-176Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background and aims Sphagnum mosses are ecosystem engineers that create and maintain boreal peatlands. With unique biochemistry, waterlogging and acidifying capacities, they build up meters-thick layers of peat, reducing competition and impeding decomposition. We quantify within-genus differences in biochemical composition to make inferences about decay rates, related to hummock-hollow and fen-bog gradients and to phylogeny. Methods We sampled litter from 15 Sphagnum species, abundant over the whole northern hemisphere. We used regression and Principal Components Analysis (PCA) to evaluate general relationships between litter quality parameters and decay rates measured under laboratory and field conditions. Results Both concentrations of the polysaccharide sphagnan and the soluble phenolics were positively correlated with intrinsic decay resistance, however, so were the previously understudied lignin-like phenolics. More resistant litter had more of all the important metabolites; consequently, PC1 scores were related to lab mass loss (R-2 = 0.57). There was no such relationship with field mass loss, which is also affected by the environment. PCA also revealed that metabolites clearly group Sphagnum sections (subgenera). Conclusions We suggest that the commonly stated growth-decomposition trade-off is largely due to litter quality. We show a strong phylogenetic control on Sphagnum metabolites, but their effects on decay are affected by nutrient availability in the habitat.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 425, no 1-2, p. 161-176
Keywords [en]
Peatland, Decay resistance, Sphagnan, Phenolics, Lignin, Hummock-hollow
National Category
Botany
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-354249DOI: 10.1007/s11104-018-3579-8ISI: 000430992300011OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-354249DiVA, id: diva2:1229135
Funder
Swedish Research CouncilThe Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Note

Correction in: PLANT AND SOIL, Volume: 439, Issue: 1-2, Pages: 569-572, Special Issue: SI, DOI: 10.1007/s11104-019-04046-5

Available from: 2018-06-29 Created: 2018-06-29 Last updated: 2019-08-16Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Functional Traits in Sphagnum
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Functional Traits in Sphagnum
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Peat mosses (Sphagnum) are ecosystem engineers that largely govern carbon sequestration in northern hemisphere peatlands. I investigated functional traits in Sphagnum species and addressed the questions: (I) Are growth, photosynthesis and decomposition and the trade-offs between these traits related to habitat or phylogeny?, (II) Which are the determinants of decomposition and are there trade-offs between metabolites that affect decomposition?, (III) How do macro-climate and local environment determine growth in Sphagnum across the Holarctic?, (IV) How does N2 fixation vary among different species and habitats?, (V) How do species from different microtopographic niches avoid or tolerate desiccation, and are leaf and structural traits adaptations to growth high above the water table?

Photosynthetic rate and decomposition in laboratory conditions (innate growth and decay resistance) were related to growth and decomposition in their natural habitats. We found support for a trade-off between growth and decay resistance, but innate qualities translated differently to field responses in different species. There were no trade-offs between production of different decay-affecting metabolites. Their production is phylogenetically controlled, but their effects on decay are modified by nutrient availability in the habitat. Modelling growth of two species across the Holarctic realm showed that precipitation, temperature and vascular plant cover are the best predictors of performance, but responses were stronger for the wetter growing species. N2 fixation rates were positively related to moss decomposability, field decomposition and tissue phosphorus concentration. Hence, higher decomposition can lead to more nutrients available to N2-fixing microorganisms, while higher concentrations of decomposition-hampering metabolites may impede N2 fixation. A mesocosm experiment, testing effects of water level drawdown on water content and chlorophyll fluorescence, showed that either slow water loss or high maximum water holding capacity can lead to desiccation avoidance. Furthermore, leaf anatomical traits rather than structural traits affected the water economy.

This thesis has advanced the emerging field of trait ecology in Sphagnum by comparing many species and revealing novel mechanisms and an ever more complex picture of Sphagnum ecology. In addition, the species-specific trait measurements of this work offers opportunities for improvements of peatland ecosystem models.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2019. p. 45
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Science and Technology, ISSN 1651-6214 ; 1771
Keywords
peat mosses, functional traits, NPP, decay resistance, N2 fixation, desiccation resistance, climate
National Category
Ecology
Research subject
Biology with specialization in Ecological Botany
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-375011 (URN)978-91-513-0568-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-03-15, Zootissalen, EBC, Villavägen 9, Uppsala, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-02-21 Created: 2019-01-25 Last updated: 2019-03-18

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Bengtsson, FiaRydin, Håkan

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