Six years of solar UV-B manipulations affect growth of Sphagnum and vascular plants in a Tierra del Fuego peatland


Author for correspondence: Matt Robson Tel: +1 435 7972555 Fax: +1 435 7973872 Email:


  • • Tierra del Fuego is subject to increases in solar UV-B radiation in the austral spring and summer due to ozone depletion.
  • • Plastic films were used to filter solar UV-B radiation over peatland plots through six field seasons, resulting in near-ambient (c. 90%) and reduced (c. 17%) solar UV-B treatments.
  • • As in the first three field seasons of treatments, near-ambient UV-B caused reduced height growth but had no effect on biomass production of the moss Sphagnum magellanicum. It reduced leaf and rhizome growth of Tetroncium magellanicum. Height growth and morphology of Empetrum rubrum and Nothofagus antarctica were only affected by solar UV-B during the fourth to sixth field seasons. There was also a decrease in Tetroncium leaf nitrogen under near-ambient UV-B.
  • • Growth of Sphagnum was less affected than that of most emergent vascular plants. This enabled the Sphagnum mat to engulf more Nothofagus, and limit the escape of Empetrum under near-ambient UV-B. Yet, differences in the response of species to solar UV-B were not expressed as changes in plant community composition.