N deposition affects N availability in interstitial water, growth of Sphagnum and invasion of vascular plants in bog vegetation


Author for correspondence: Juul Limpens Tel: +31-317-483173 Fax: +31-317-484845 Email: Juul.Limpens@WUR.nl


  • We studied the effects of N deposition on shrub–moss competition and the establishment and growth of invasive Betula pubescens and Molinia caerulea in intact bog vegetation removed from a site subject to 40 kg N ha −1 yr −1 .
  • Mesocosms with and without introduced Betula seedlings and Molinia sprouts were kept under a roof and received an equivalent of 0, 40 and 80 kg N ha −1 yr −1 for two growing seasons.
  • N concentration in both interstitial water and Sphagnum decreased when N input ceased and increased when N input was doubled. Molinia biomass was positively related to the inorganic N concentration in the interstitial water. Adding N increased production of Molinia and prolonged survival of Betula seedlings in the first year. Sphagnum height increment showed a hump-shaped relationship with light interception by vascular plants.
  • N deposition encouraged vascular plants to grow by enhancing N availability in the rhizosphere. Water table level and the availability of P were found to be important in explaining species-specific responses to N deposition. The underlying mechanisms and the reversibility of N effects are discussed.