In southern Sweden there are regional gradients in the rate of atmospheric deposition of nitrogen, and the rate of N deposition has increased in recent decades This may have caused a shift in the growth-limiting nutrient of Sphagnum growth from nitrogen to phosphorus In this study, the influence of N and P concentrations on the decay of litter peat formed by Sphagnum magellanicum was examined A total of 90 litter peat samples formed by this species was collected from 15 raised bogs (3 sites per bog, 2 microsites per site) Total N and P of samples were determined and the rate of decomposition (C02 release) was measured under aerated, laboratory conditions at 18°C Differences in decomposition rates, N and P concentrations were most pronounced among microsites within sites, whereas no significant differences were observed among bogs The results indicate that decomposition of 5 magellanicum litter peat is influenced more by P than by N Thus, it appears that the recent increase in atmospheric N deposition has not had a large direct effect on peat decomposition rates It is suggested that the efficient uptake of N and P by the Sphagnum plant may lead to a positive feedback mechanism, whereby more slowly growing Sphagnum produces more nutrient-enriched litter peat with a more rapid decay Such a mechanism could promote the development of microtopography (hummocks and hollows) on bogs