Solar ultraviolet-B radiation influence on Sphagnum bog and Carex fen ecosystems: first field season findings in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina


Stephan D. Flint, fax + 1/ 435 797 3796, e-mail


Stratospheric ozone depletion occurs over Tierra del Fuego, southern Argentina and Chile, in the austral spring and summer due to the precession of the Antarctic ‘ozone hole’ and the general erosion of the ozone layer. Plots receiving either near-ambient or reduced UV-B radiation were established using different louvered plastic film filters over Sphagnum bog and Carex fen ecosystems in October 1996. In the Sphagnum bog system, growth measurements during the late spring and summer showed no significant differences in the moss Sphagnum magellanicum, or the vascular plants (Empetrum rubrum, Nothofagus antarctica, and Tetroncium magellanicum) between near-ambient and attenuated UV-B radiation treatments. In the Carex fen system, leaf length and spike height did not differ in the two dominant species, Carex decidua and C. curta, between UV-B radiation treatments. The length of individual spikelets of C. curta under near-ambient UV-B radiation was less than under the reduced UV-B radiation treatment, but this was not evident in C. decidua. No differences in seed number, seed mass, or viability were seen in either Carex species between the UV-B treatments. Two important constituents of the microfauna that inhabit the Sphagnum bog are testate amoebae and rotifers. These both appeared to be more numerous under near-ambient UV-B radiation than under reduced UV-B radiation. The subtle responses of the Sphagnum and Carex ecosystems may become more apparent in subsequent years as the treatments are continued. Trophic-level changes, such as the differences in number of amoebae and rotifers, may be more sensitive to solar UV-B radiation than growth and productivity of the vegetation.