Does background nitrogen deposition affect the response of boreal vegetation to fertilization?

Hedwall, P. O. and Nordin, A. and Strengbom, J. and Brunet, J. and Olsson, B. (2013) Does background nitrogen deposition affect the response of boreal vegetation to fertilization? Oecologia, 173 (2). pp. 615-624. ISSN 0029-8549

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Forest floor vegetation is an important component of forest biodiversity, and numerous studies have shown that N input alters the vegetation. In some cases, however, the effects of experimental N addition have been small or absent. Two alternative hypotheses have been suggested: (a) competition from the tree layer confounds the response to N, or (b) N response in areas with high background deposition is limited by N saturation. Neither of these hypotheses has so far been explicitly tested. Here, we compile data on forest floor vegetation from N addition experiments, in which the forest had been clear-cut, along an N deposition gradient ranging from 4 to 16 kg ha(-1) year(-1) in Sweden. We analyzed the effects of N addition and its interaction with N deposition on common species and thereby tested the second hypothesis in an environment without the confounding effects of the tree layer. The results show that the effects of the experimental N addition are significantly influenced by background N deposition: the N addition effects are smaller in areas with high N deposition than in areas with low N deposition, despite the fact that the highest N deposition in this study can be considered moderate from an international perspective. The results are important when assessing the reliability of results from N addition experiments on forest floor vegetation in areas with moderate to high background N deposition. We conclude that the interacting effects of N addition and N deposition need to be included when assessing long-term N sensitivity of plant communities.

Item Type: Article
Language: English
Future Forest Subject: Skogsbruk i klimatförändringens tid > Natur
Depositing User: Christer Enkvist
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2017 14:27
Last Modified: 28 Feb 2017 14:27

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