• nitrogen;
  • peat chemistry;
  • precipitation chemistry;
  • Sphagnum;
  • sulphate;
  • water chemistry


1 We assessed the role of climatic conditions and the effects of different, long-term atmospheric depositions in controlling the mineral and nutrient contents in pore-water, surface peat and in living Sphagna at a boreo-nemoral mire in Sweden and an alpine mire in Italy.

2 The terrestrial contribution of Ca2+, Mg2+ and inline image in bulk precipitation was much greater at the Italian mire, in accordance with the different bedrock in the region and the higher level of atmospheric pollution.

3 At both mires, the contribution of bulk precipitation to the concentration of major ions in mire pore-water was much greater in the ombrotrophic than in the minerotrophic part, because of the raised morphology of the mires, which limited the inflow of mineral soil water to the margins. The only ions strongly depleted in mire pore-water compared with precipitation were K+, inline image and inline image and these were therefore limiting to plant growth.

4 Higher inline image concentration in pore-water at the Swedish mire, which experienced lower atmospheric inputs of sulphate, was probably caused by oxidative processes during a long dry period in the summer before sampling.

5 Higher rates of inline image, inline image, as well as inline image atmospheric inputs at the Italian mire were reflected in significantly higher N and, partly, S concentrations in ombrotrophic Sphagna. Higher inline image concentration in pore-water at the Italian mire was associated with a lower N retention coefficient of the ombrotrophic Sphagnum plants, suggesting a reduced nitrogen filtering ability of the moss layer.