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Glasshouse vs field experiments: do they yield ecologically similar results for assessing N impacts on peat mosses?

Limpens, J.; Granath, G.; Aerts, R.; Heijmans, M.M.P.D.; Sheppard, L.J.; Bragazza, L.; Williams, B.L.; Rydin, H.; Bubier, J.; Moore, T.; Rochefort, L.; Mitchell, E.A.D.; Buttler, A.; van den Berg, L.J.L.; Gunnarsson, U.; Francez, A.-J.; Gerdol, R.; Thormann, M.; Grosvernier, P.; Wiedermann, M.M.; Nilsson, M.B.; Hoosbeek, M.R.; Bayley, S.; Nordbakken, J.-F.; Paulissen, M.P.C.P.; Hotes, S.; Breeuwer, A.; Ilomets, M.; Tomassen, H.B.M.; Leith, I.; Xu, B.. 2012 Glasshouse vs field experiments: do they yield ecologically similar results for assessing N impacts on peat mosses? New Phytologist, 195 (2). 408-418. 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04157.x

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Abstract/Summary

• Peat bogs have accumulated more atmospheric carbon (C) than any other terrestrial ecosystem today. Most of this C is associated with peat moss (Sphagnum) litter. Atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition can decrease Sphagnum production, compromising the C sequestration capacity of peat bogs. The mechanisms underlying the reduced production are uncertain, necessitating multifactorial experiments. • We investigated whether glasshouse experiments are reliable proxies for field experiments for assessing interactions between N deposition and environment as controls on Sphagnum N concentration and production. We performed a meta-analysis over 115 glasshouse experiments and 107 field experiments. • We found that glasshouse and field experiments gave similar qualitative and quantitative estimates of changes in Sphagnum N concentration in response to N application. However, glasshouse-based estimates of changes in production – even qualitative assessments – diverged from field experiments owing to a stronger N effect on production response in absence of vascular plants in the glasshouse, and a weaker N effect on production response in presence of vascular plants compared to field experiments. • Thus, although we need glasshouse experiments to study how interacting environmental factors affect the response of Sphagnum to increased N deposition, we need field experiments to properly quantify these effects.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1111/j.1469-8137.2012.04157.x
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry > BGC Topic 2 - Biogeochemistry and Climate System Processes
CEH Sections: Billett (to November 2013)
ISSN: 0028-646X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This paper is free to download. Please click on the Official URL to access full text.
Additional Keywords: carbon (C), climate, experiments, meta-analysis, mires and peatlands, nitrogen deposition, productivity, Sphagnum
NORA Subject Terms: Botany
Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 16 Jul 2012 11:07
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/18673

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