Differential allocation of carbon in mosses and grasses governs ecosystem sequestration: a 13C tracer study in the high Arctic
Article first published online: 14 SEP 2009
© The Authors (2009). Journal compilation © New Phytologist (2009)
Special Issue: Featured papers on ‘Weeds - bridging the gap between evolutionary ecology and crop science’
Volume 184, Issue 4, pages 944–949, December 2009
How to Cite
Woodin, S. J., van der Wal, R., Sommerkorn, M. and Gornall, J. L. (2009), Differential allocation of carbon in mosses and grasses governs ecosystem sequestration: a 13C tracer study in the high Arctic. New Phytologist, 184: 944–949. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2009.03022.x
- Issue published online: 6 NOV 2009
- Article first published online: 14 SEP 2009
- Received: 2 June 2009, Accepted: 19 July 2009
- decomposition sequestration;
- plant growth form
- •This study investigates the influence of vegetation composition on carbon (C) sequestration in a moss-dominated ecosystem in the Arctic.
- •A 13C labelling study in an arctic wet meadow was used to trace assimilate into C pools of differing recalcitrance within grasses and mosses and to determine the retention of C by these plant groups.
- •Moss retained 70% of assimilated 13C over the month following labelling, which represented half the growing season. By contrast, the vascular plants, comprising mostly grasses, retained only 40%. The mechanism underlying this was that moss allocated 80% of the 13C to recalcitrant C pools, a much higher proportion than in grasses (56%).
- •This method enabled elucidation of a plant trait that will influence decomposition and hence persistence of assimilated C in the ecosystem. We predict that moss-dominated vegetation will retain sequestered C more strongly than a grass-dominated community. Given the strong environmental drivers that are causing a shift from moss to grass dominance, this is likely to result in a reduction in future ecosystem C sink strength.