Phosphorus and nitrogen co-limitation of forest ground vegetation under elevated anthropogenic nitrogen deposition.
Oecologia. 2017 Oct; 185(2):317-326
Publication Type
Journal Article
Per-Ola Hedwall
Johan Bergh
Jörg Brunet
Author Affiliation
Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Sundsvägen 3, 230 53, Alnarp, Sweden.
Oecologia. 2017 Oct; 185(2):317-326
Publication Type
Journal Article
Environmental Pollutants - analysis - metabolism
Human Activities
Nitrogen - analysis - metabolism
Phosphorus - analysis - metabolism
Trees - growth & development
Plant growth in northern forest ecosystems is considered to be primarily nitrogen limited. Nitrogen deposition is predicted to change this towards co-limitation/limitation by other nutrients (e.g., phosphorus), although evidence of such stoichiometric effects is scarce. We utilized two forest fertilization experiments in southern Sweden to analyze single and combined effects of nitrogen and phosphorus on the productivity, composition, and diversity of the ground vegetation. Our results indicate that the productivity of forest ground vegetation in southern Sweden is co-limited by nitrogen and phosphorus. Additionally, the combined effect of nitrogen and phosphorus on the productivity was larger than when applied solely. No effects on species richness of any of these two nutrients were observed when applied separately, while applied in combination, they increased species richness and changed species composition, mainly by promoting more mesotrophic species. All these effects, however, occurred only for the vascular plants and not for bryophytes. The tree layer in a forest has a profound impact on the productivity and diversity of the ground vegetation by competing for both light and nutrients. This was confirmed in our study where a combination of nitrogen and high tree basal area reduced cover of the ground vegetation compared to all the other treatments where basal area was lower after stand thinning. During the past decades, nitrogen deposition may have further increased this competition from the trees for phosphorus and gradually reduced ground vegetation diversity. Phosphorus limitation induced by nitrogen deposition may, thus, contribute to ongoing changes in forest ground vegetation.
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PubMed ID
28884383 View in PubMed
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