Growth and tissue nitrogen of epiphytic Atlantic bryophytes: effects of increased and decreased atmospheric N deposition


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  • 1Atlantic bryophytes are of European conservation importance, yet the effect on them of excess atmospheric nitrogen is relatively unknown. This study assesses the effects of increased atmospheric N deposition on the growth and tissue N of epiphytic Atlantic bryophytes, and their potential to recover following a decline in N deposition.
  • 2The N received in stemflow by bryophytes at two sites was measured and compared to model predictions.
  • 3Four species of epiphytic bryophytes (Isothecium myosuroides, Dicranum scoparium, Frullania tamarisci and Ulota crispa), typical of Atlantic Oak woods, were studied in a 12-month reciprocal transplant experiment between a pristine Oak woodland receiving a modelled atmospheric deposition of 12 kg N ha−1 year−1 and a polluted one receiving 54 kg N ha−1 year−1.
  • 4Tissue N concentration increased and growth declined following an increase in atmospheric N deposition in all species except Ulota crispa. Conversely, tissue N concentration decreased and growth increased in Frullania tamarisci following a decrease in atmospheric N deposition, with similar non-significant patterns in the other species.
  • 5The reciprocal transplants indicate a detrimental effect of increased N deposition on the bryophyte species studied. The study indicated recovery following a decrease in atmospheric N deposition, but the responses caused by decreased N deposition were smaller than those due to increased N deposition. This suggests that the time-scale for recovery of bryophytes from excess N deposition is longer than the timescale of nitrogen impacts.