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Experimentally increased nutrient availability at the permafrost thaw front selectively enhances biomass production of deep-rooting subarctic peatland species
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Systems Ecology, Department of Ecological Science, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands ; UR1158 AgroImpact, INRA, Barenton-Bugny, France.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3835-0586
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. Systems Ecology, Department of Ecological Science, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
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2017 (English)In: Global Change Biology, ISSN 1354-1013, E-ISSN 1365-2486, Vol. 23, no 10, 4257-4266 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Climate warming increases nitrogen (N) mineralization in superficial soil layers (the dominant rooting zone) of subarctic peatlands. Thawing and subsequent mineralization of permafrost increases plant-available N around the thaw-front. Because plant production in these peatlands is N-limited, such changes may substantially affect net primary production and species composition. We aimed to identify the potential impact of increased N-availability due to permafrost thawing on subarctic peatland plant production and species performance, relative to the impact of increased N-availability in superficial organic layers. Therefore, we investigated whether plant roots are present at the thaw-front (45 cm depth) and whether N-uptake (N-15-tracer) at the thaw-front occurs during maximum thaw-depth, coinciding with the end of the growing season. Moreover, we performed a unique 3-year belowground fertilization experiment with fully factorial combinations of deep-(thaw-front) and shallow-fertilization (10 cm depth) and controls. We found that certain species are present with roots at the thaw-front (Rubus chamaemorus) and have the capacity (R. chamaemorus, Eriophorum vaginatum) for N-uptake from the thaw-front between autumn and spring when aboveground tissue is largely senescent. In response to 3-year shallow-belowground fertilization (S) both shallow-(Empetrum hermaphroditum) and deep-rooting species increased aboveground biomass and N-content, but only deep-rooting species responded positively to enhanced nutrient supply at the thaw-front (D). Moreover, the effects of shallow-fertilization and thaw-front fertilization on aboveground biomass production of the deep-rooting species were similar in magnitude (S: 71%; D: 111% increase compared to control) and additive (S + D: 181% increase). Our results show that plant-available N released from thawing permafrost can form a thus far overlooked additional N-source for deep-rooting subarctic plant species and increase their biomass production beyond the already established impact of warming-driven enhanced shallow N-mineralization. This may result in shifts in plant community composition and may partially counteract the increased carbon losses from thawing permafrost.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
WILEY , 2017. Vol. 23, no 10, 4257-4266 p.
Keyword [en]
belowground nitrogen, climate change, Empetrum hermaphroditum, fertilization, frozen soil, perrmafrost thaw, root uptake, Rubus chamaemorus
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Botany
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-140025DOI: 10.1111/gcb.13804ISI: 000410642100024PubMedID: 28675586OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-140025DiVA: diva2:1146221
Available from: 2017-10-02 Created: 2017-10-02 Last updated: 2017-10-03Bibliographically approved

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