Nitrogen and phosphorus resorption efficiency and proficiency in six sub-arctic bog species after 4 years of nitrogen fertilization

Authors

  • L. M. Van Heerwaarden,

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    1. Department of Systems Ecology, Institute of Ecological Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • S. Toet,

    1. Department of Systems Ecology, Institute of Ecological Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • R. Aerts

    1. Department of Systems Ecology, Institute of Ecological Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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L.M. van Heerwaarden, Department of Systems Ecology, Institute of Ecological Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands (fax 0031-20-4447123; e-mail lusi.van.heerwaarden@ecology.falw.vu.nl).

Summary

  • 1Plant growth at high-latitude sites is usually strongly nutrient-limited. The increased nutrient availability predicted in response to global warming may affect internal plant nutrient cycling, including nutrient resorption from senescing leaves.
  • 2The effect of increased N supply (10 g N m−2 year−1) on nitrogen and phosphorus resorption efficiency and proficiency in six sub-arctic bog species, belonging to four different growth-forms, was studied in northern Sweden.
  • 3We hypothesized that while increased N supply would not affect N or P resorption efficiency, it would lead to lower N resorption proficiency (higher N concentrations in leaf litter) and higher P resorption proficiency (lower P concentrations in leaf litter). We also investigated whether the basis on which resorption was expressed (leaf mass, leaf area or unit leaf) influenced the patterns observed.
  • 4Contrasting with our hypothesis, a general trend of decreased N resorption efficiency occurred in response to increased N supply, but the expected decrease in N resorption proficiency was seen in all species except Betula nana.
  • 5P resorption efficiency did not change in four species (B. nana, Empetrum hermaphroditum, Eriophorum vaginatum and Rubus chamaemorus) but it decreased in Andromeda polifolia, and increased in Vaccinium uliginosum. P resorption proficiency showed the expected increase in only two species (B. nana and V. uliginosum).
  • 6Apart from P resorption efficiency, the different calculation methods generally produced similar responses of resorption efficiency and proficiency to N supply.
  • 7Increased N supply at high-latitude sites clearly leads to more N being returned to the soil through leaf litter production. However, decomposition of such litter will probably become P-limited.
  • 8Considerable interspecific differences in nutrient resorption proficiency were found, indicating that long-term changes in vegetation composition need to be considered when evaluating plant-mediated effects on ecosystem nutrient cycling in response to increased nutrient supply.

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