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Keywords:

  • Moss;
  • fertilizer;
  • temperature;
  • water;
  • climate change

summary

Total moss cover and the growth responses of the two dominant bryophytes within a sub-arctic heath ecosystem, Polytrichum commune Hedw, and Hylocomium splendens (Hedw.) Br. Eur., were investigated in response to simulated environmental change. Temperature, water supply and nutrients (NPK fertilizer) were increased in a factorial field study in Swedish Lapland. After 3 yr of treatment, total moss caver on fertilized plots was found to be less than 50% of that on unfertilized plots. H. splendens made a smaller contribution to total cover, and also had fewer shoots on the fertilizer treated plots. The relative contribution of P. commune to the bryophyte community was greater on the fertilized plots, although total shoot numbers of P. commune were not greater. There was, however, a larger number of dead shoots of P. commune on the fertilized plots. Total moss cover, relative contribution to moss cover by P. commune and H. splendens, and the numbers of shoots of these two species, were unresponsive to both the temperature and water treatments. The growth of the current year's segment of H. splendens was retarded by both the fertilizer and temperature treatments. Furthermore, the dry weight of the physiologically active shoot was found to be significantly altered by all three treatments. The current year's growth of P. commune showed increases in d. wt and morphological parameters in response to the fertilizer treatment. There were also interactive effects of both the fertilizer and temperature treatments with the water treatment on the current year's stem length increment.