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A race for space?: How Sphagnum fuscumstabilizes vegetation composition during long-termclimate manipulations
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Department of Ecology and Environmental Sciences. (Arcum)
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2011 (English)In: Global Change Biology, ISSN 1354-1013, E-ISSN 1365-2486, Vol. 17, no 6, 2162-2171 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Strong climate warming is predicted at higher latitudes this century, with potentially major consequences forproductivity and carbon sequestration. Although northern peatlands contain one-third of the world’s soil organiccarbon, little is known about the long-term responses to experimental climate change of vascular plant communities inthese Sphagnum-dominated ecosystems.We aimed to see how long-term experimental climate manipulations, relevantto different predicted future climate scenarios, affect total vascular plant abundance and species composition whenthe community is dominated by mosses. During 8 years, we investigated how the vascular plant community of aSphagnum fuscum-dominated subarctic peat bog responded to six experimental climate regimes, including factorialcombinations of summer as well as spring warming and a thicker snow cover. Vascular plant species composition inour peat bog was more stable than is typically observed in (sub)arctic experiments: neither changes in total vascularplant abundance, nor in individual species abundances, Shannon’s diversity or evenness were found in response tothe climate manipulations. For three key species (Empetrum hermaphroditum, Betula nana and S. fuscum) we alsomeasured whether the treatments had a sustained effect on plant length growth responses and how these responsesinteracted. Contrasting with the stability at the community level, both key shrubs and the peatmoss showed sustainedpositive growth responses at the plant level to the climate treatments. However, a higher percentage of mossencroachedE. hermaphroditum shoots and a lack of change in B. nana net shrub height indicated encroachment byS. fuscum, resulting in long-term stability of the vascular community composition: in a warmer world, vascular speciesof subarctic peat bogs appear to just keep pace with growing Sphagnum in their race for space. Our findings contributeto general ecological theory by demonstrating that community resistance to environmental changes does notnecessarily mean inertia in vegetation response.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Blackwell , 2011. Vol. 17, no 6, 2162-2171 p.
Keyword [en]
Bryophyte, climate change, diversity, long-term manipulation, peatland, resistance, snow addition, spring warming, summer warming, vascular vegetation composition
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-43313DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2010.02377.xOAI: diva2:412980
Available from: 2011-04-27 Created: 2011-04-27 Last updated: 2016-05-20Bibliographically approved

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Dorrepaal, Ellen
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