Glasshouse vs field experiments: do they yield ecologically similar results for assessing N impacts on peat mosses?

Authors

  • J. Limpens,

    1. Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 3a, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • G. Granath,

    1. Department of Plant Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
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    • These authors contributed equally to this work.

  • R. Aerts,

    1. Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Systems Ecology, Free University of Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081 HV Amsterdam, the Netherlands
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  • M. M. P. D. Heijmans,

    1. Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 3a, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
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  • L. J. Sheppard,

    1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Edinburgh Bush Estate Penicuik, EH26 0QB, Scotland
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  • L. Bragazza,

    1. Department of Biology and Evolution, University of Ferrara, Corso Ercole I d’Este 32, I-44121 Ferrara, Italy
    2. WSL Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Wetlands Research Group, Site Lausanne, Station 2, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
    3. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), Laboratory of Ecological Systems (ECOS), Batiment GR, Station 2, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
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  • B. L. Williams,

    1. Macaulay Land Use Research Institute, Aberdeen, UK
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  • H. Rydin,

    1. Department of Plant Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
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  • J. Bubier,

    1. Mount Holyoke College, Environmental Studies Department, Clapp Laboratory, 50 College Street, South Hadley, Massachusetts 01075, USA
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  • T. Moore,

    1. Department of Geography, McGill University, 805 Sherbrooke St. W. Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2K6
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  • L. Rochefort,

    1. Department of Plant Sciences, Université Laval, 2425 rue de l’Agriculture, Quebec, QC, Canada G1V 0A6
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  • E. A. D. Mitchell,

    1. Laboratory of Soil Biology, University of Neuchâtel, Rue Emile-Argand 11, CH-2009 Neuchâtel, Switzerland
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  • A. Buttler,

    1. WSL Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, Wetlands Research Group, Site Lausanne, Station 2, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
    2. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), Laboratory of Ecological Systems (ECOS), Batiment GR, Station 2, CH-1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
    3. Laboratory of Chrono-Environnement, UMR 6249 CNRS – INRA, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France
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  • L. J. L. van den Berg,

    1. Aquatic Ecology and Environmental Biology, Radboud University Nijmegen, 6525 AJ Nijmegen, the Netherlands
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  • U. Gunnarsson,

    1. Department of Plant Ecology and Evolution, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Norbyvägen 18D, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden
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  • A. -J. Francez,

    1. UMR 6553 ECOBIO & FR90 CAREN, Rennes University, CNRS, Campus de Beaulieu, 263 avenue du Général Leclerc, 35042 Rennes Cedex, France
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  • R. Gerdol,

    1. Department of Biology and Evolution, University of Ferrara, Corso Ercole I d’Este 32, I-44121 Ferrara, Italy
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  • M. Thormann,

    1. Aquilon Environmental Consulting Ltd., 3111 Spence Wynd SW, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6X 0H7
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  • P. Grosvernier,

    1. LIN’eco, Case postale 80, 2732 Reconvilier, Switzerland
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  • M. M. Wiedermann,

    1. Soil Science, Biogeochemistry, Department of Forest Ecology & Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, S-901 83 Umeå, Sweden
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  • M. B. Nilsson,

    1. Soil Science, Biogeochemistry, Department of Forest Ecology & Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, S-901 83 Umeå, Sweden
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  • M. R. Hoosbeek,

    1. Earth System Science – Climate Change, Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
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  • S. Bayley,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2E9
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  • J. -F. Nordbakken,

    1. The Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute, Postbox 115, 1431 Ås, Norway
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  • M. P. C. P. Paulissen,

    1. Alterra, Team Ecological Modelling and Monitoring, Wageningen University and Research Centre, PO Box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, the Netherlands
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  • S. Hotes,

    1. Department of Animal Ecology, Justus-Liebig-University, Heinrich-Buff-Ring 26-32 (IFZ), D-35392 Giessen, Germany
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  • A. Breeuwer,

    1. Nature Conservation and Plant Ecology Group, Wageningen University, Droevendaalsesteeg 3a, 6708 PB Wageningen, the Netherlands
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  • M. Ilomets,

    1. Department of Landscape Ecology, Institute of Ecology, Tallinn University, Uus-Sadama 5, EE-10120 Tallinn, Estonia
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  • H. B. M. Tomassen,

    1. B-Ware Research Centre, Nijmegen, the Netherlands
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  • I. Leith,

    1. Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), Edinburgh Bush Estate Penicuik, EH26 0QB, Scotland
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  • B. Xu

    1. Southern Illinois University Carbondale 1125 Lincoln Drive, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA
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Author for correspondence:
Juul Limpens
Tel: +31 317483173
Email: juul.limpens@wur.nl

Summary

  • Peat bogs have accumulated more atmospheric carbon (C) than any other terrestrial ecosystem today. Most of this C is associated with peat moss (Sphagnum) litter. Atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition can decrease Sphagnum production, compromising the C sequestration capacity of peat bogs. The mechanisms underlying the reduced production are uncertain, necessitating multifactorial experiments.
  • We investigated whether glasshouse experiments are reliable proxies for field experiments for assessing interactions between N deposition and environment as controls on Sphagnum N concentration and production. We performed a meta-analysis over 115 glasshouse experiments and 107 field experiments.
  • We found that glasshouse and field experiments gave similar qualitative and quantitative estimates of changes in Sphagnum N concentration in response to N application. However, glasshouse-based estimates of changes in production – even qualitative assessments – diverged from field experiments owing to a stronger N effect on production response in absence of vascular plants in the glasshouse, and a weaker N effect on production response in presence of vascular plants compared to field experiments.
  • Thus, although we need glasshouse experiments to study how interacting environmental factors affect the response of Sphagnum to increased N deposition, we need field experiments to properly quantify these effects.

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