Response of Sphagnum papillosum and Drosera rotundifolia to reduced and oxidised wet nitrogen deposition

Millett, Jonathan; Leith, Ian; Sheppard, Lucy; Newton, Jason. 2012 Response of Sphagnum papillosum and Drosera rotundifolia to reduced and oxidised wet nitrogen deposition. Folia Geobotanica, 47 (2). 179-191.

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We transplanted Sphagnum ‘turfs’ containing abundant Drosera rotundifolia into an existing nitrogen deposition experiment at Whim Moss near Edinburgh. These mesocosms received simulated N deposition as either NH 4 + or NO 3 - , to give total N deposition rates of approximately 8, 16 or 32, or 64 kg N ha-1 year-1. Simulated N deposition was added in a realistic way (i.e., with rainfall throughout the year). The δ15N of this added N was elevated relative to background N. We measured the tissue chemistry and δ15N of Sphagnum papillosum and D. rotundifolia over two years after transplant. Our aim was to determine uptake of the deposited N and the impact on S. papillosum tissue chemistry and D. rotundifolia tissue chemistry and ecology. We found clear, significant impacts of N deposition on S. papillosum, with increased capitula N content and reduced C:N ratio. Increased δ15N indicated uptake of deposited N. The response of D. rotundifolia was less clear with impacts only at the highest rate of N deposition. There was no evidence of differential uptake of reduced or oxidized wet N deposition by either S. papillosum or D. rotundifolia. Using the natural abundance stable isotope method we estimated the minimum contribution of prey N to the total N in D. rotundifolia to be 35%. The results suggest that differences in the uptake of reduced or oxidized wet N deposition might not be ecologically significant when wet N deposition is added realistically. They also support the suggestion that a model of N dynamics in Sphagnum-dominated ecosystems that includes the role of Sphagnum as a small-scale ecosystem engineer, is required to predict vascular plant responses to N deposition accurately.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Biogeochemistry
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Billett (to November 2013)
ISSN: 1211-9520
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This document is the author’s final manuscript version of the journal article, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer review process. Some differences between this and the publisher’s version remain. You are advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from this article. The final publication is available at
Additional Keywords: Carnivorous plants, global environmental change, nitrogen cycling, nitrogen deposition, ombrotrophic bog, stable isotopes
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 21 Jan 2013 15:36 +0 (UTC)

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