University of Oulu

Bengtsson, F, Rydin, H, Baltzer, JL, et al. Environmental drivers of Sphagnum growth in peatlands across the Holarctic region. J Ecol. 2021; 109: 417– 431.

Environmental drivers of Sphagnum growth in peatlands across the Holarctic region

Saved in:
Author: Bengtsson, Fia1; Rydin, Hakan1; Baltzer, Jennifer L.2;
Organizations: 1Uppsala Univ, Dept Ecol & Genet, Uppsala, Sweden.
2Wilfrid Laurier Univ, Biol Dept, Waterloo, ON, Canada.
3Univ Ferrara, Dept Life Sci & Biotechnol, Ferrara, Italy.
4WSL Site Lausanne, Swiss Fed Inst Forest Snow & Landscape Res, Lausanne, Switzerland.
5Ecole Polytech Fed Lausanne EPFL, Sch Architecture Civil & Environm Engn ENAC, Lab Ecol Syst ECOS, Lausanne, Switzerland.
6Northeast Normal Univ, Inst Peat & Mire Res, State Environm Protect Key Lab Wetland Ecol & Veg, Changchun, Peoples R China.
7Northeast Normal Univ, Sch Geog Sci, Key Lab Geog Proc & Ecol Secur Changbai Mt, Minist Educ, Changchun, Peoples R China.
8Manchester Metropolitan Univ, Dept Nat Sci, Manchester, Lancs, England.
9Umea Univ, Dept Ecol & Environm Sci, Climate Impacts Res Ctr, Abisko, Sweden.
10Norwegian Univ Sci & Technol, NTNU Univ Museum, Trondheim, Norway.
11St Petersburg State Univ, Inst Earth Sci, St Petersburg, Russia.
12Russian Acad Sci, Komarov Bot Inst, St Petersburg, Russia.
13Univ Lodz, Fac Biol & Environm Protect, Dept Geobotany & Plant Ecol, Lodz, Poland.
14Bulgarian Acad Sci, Inst Biodivers & Ecosyst Res, Sofia, Bulgaria.
15Babes Bolyai Univ, Fac Biol & Geol, Dept Taxon & Ecol, Cluj Napoca, Romania.
16Russian Acad Sci, Ural Branch, Inst Biol, Komi Sci Ctr, Syktyvkar, Russia.
17Masaryk Univ, Dept Bot & Zool, Fac Sci, Brno, Czech Republic.
18Univ Kitakyushu, Dept Biol, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan.
19McGill Univ, Dept Geog, Montreal, PQ, Canada.
20Carleton Univ, Dept Geog & Environm Studies, Ottawa, ON, Canada.
21Mendel Univ Brno, Fac AgriSci, Dept Plant Biol, Brno, Czech Republic.
22Adam Mickiewicz Univ, Climate Change Ecol Res Unit, Poznan, Poland.
23Univ Tartu, Inst Ecol & Earth Sci, Tartu, Estonia.
24Russian Acad Sci, Inst Soil Sci & Agrochem, Lab Biogeocenol, Siberian Branch, Novosibirsk, Russia.
25Univ Eastern Finland, Sch Forest Sci, Peatland & Soil Ecol Grp, Joensuu, Finland.
26Univ Oulu, Dept Ecol & Genet, Oulu, Finland.
27Yugra State Univ, Khanty Mansiysk, Russia.
28Wageningen Univ, Plant Ecol & Nat Conservat Grp, Wageningen, Netherlands.
29Finnish Meteorol Inst, Helsinki, Finland.
30No Arizona Univ, Dept Biol Sci, Ctr Ecosyst Sci & Soc Ecoss, Box 5640, Flagstaff, AZ 86011 USA.
31Univ Neuchatel, Inst Biol, Lab Soil Biodivers, Neuchatel, Switzerland.
32Jardin Bot Neuchatel, Neuchatel, Switzerland.
33Univ Calgary, Dept Geog, Calgary, AB, Canada.
34Univ Saskatchewan, Dept Geog & Planning, Saskatoon, SK, Canada.
35Woods Hole Res Ctr, Falmouth, MA USA.
36Univ York, Environm & Geog, York, N Yorkshire, England.
37Lomonosov Moscow State Univ, Moscow, Russia.
38Russian Acad Sci, Papanin Inst Biol Inland Waters, Borok, Russia.
39Union Coll, Dept Biol Sci, Schenectady, NY 12308 USA.
40SUNY Coll Oneonta, Dept Biol, Oneonta, NY USA.
41Radboud Univ Nijmegen, Inst Water & Wetland Res, Aquat Ecol & Environm Biol, Nijmegen, Netherlands.
42Laval Univ, Dept Plant Sci, Quebec City, PQ, Canada.
43Laval Univ, Ctr Northern Studies, Quebec City, PQ, Canada.
44Univ Sao Paulo, Inst Biosci, Dept Zool, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
45McMaster Univ, Sch Earth Environm & Soc, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.8 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-02-23


1. The relative importance of global versus local environmental factors for growth and thus carbon uptake of the bryophyte genus Sphagnum—the main peat‐former and ecosystem engineer in northern peatlands—remains unclear.

2. We measured length growth and net primary production (NPP) of two abundant Sphagnum species across 99 Holarctic peatlands. We tested the importance of previously proposed abiotic and biotic drivers for peatland carbon uptake (climate, N deposition, water table depth and vascular plant cover) on these two responses. Employing structural equation models (SEMs), we explored both indirect and direct effects of drivers on Sphagnum growth.

3. Variation in growth was large, but similar within and between peatlands. Length growth showed a stronger response to predictors than NPP. Moreover, the smaller and denser Sphagnum fuscum growing on hummocks had weaker responses to climatic variation than the larger and looser Sphagnum magellanicum growing in the wetter conditions. Growth decreased with increasing vascular plant cover within a site. Between sites, precipitation and temperature increased growth for S. magellanicum. The SEMs indicate that indirect effects are important. For example, vascular plant cover increased with a deeper water table, increased nitrogen deposition, precipitation and temperature. These factors also influenced Sphagnum growth indirectly by affecting moss shoot density.

4. Synthesis. Our results imply that in a warmer climate, S. magellanicum will increase length growth as long as precipitation is not reduced, while S. fuscum is more resistant to decreased precipitation, but also less able to take advantage of increased precipitation and temperature. Such species‐specific sensitivity to climate may affect competitive outcomes in a changing environment, and potentially the future carbon sink function of peatlands.

see all

Series: Journal of ecology
ISSN: 0022-0477
ISSN-E: 1365-2745
ISSN-L: 0022-0477
Volume: 109
Issue: 1
Pages: 417 - 431
DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13499
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: The project was supported by the Swedish Research Council (2015‐05174), the Russian Science Foundation (grant 19‐14‐00102), the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (research projects nos. 14‐05‐00775, 15‐44‐00091, 19‐05‐00830, 18‐04‐00988 and 18‐44‐860017), University of Ferrara (FAR 2013 and 2014), the Polish National Centre for Research and Development (within the Polish‐Norwegian Research Programme: the project WETMAN (Central European Wetland Ecosystem Feedbacks to Changing Climate Field Scale Manipulation, Project ID: 203258), the National Science Centre, Poland (ID: 2015/17/B/ST10/01656), institutional research funds from the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (grant IUT34‐7), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Czech Science Foundation (Michal Hájek; Centre for European Vegetation Syntheses CEVS—project of Czech Science Foundation no. 19‐28491X), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41471043 and No. 41871046), Jilin Provincial Science and Technology Development Project (20190101025JH), Academy of Finland (Project code 287039), the Ministry of Science and Higher Education of the Russian Federation (according to the state assignment of ISSA SB RAS), the Swiss National Science Foundation projects no. P2NEP3_178543 and with generous support awarded to Lorna I. Harris from the W. Garfield Weston Foundation Fellowship for Northern Conservation, administered by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Canada, National Science Foundation (NSF‐1312402) to S.M.N., and Extensus to F.B. We acknowledge the Adirondack and Maine offices of The Nature Conservancy, the Autonomous Province of Bolzano (Italy), Staatsbosbeheer and Landschap Overijssel (the Netherlands), the Greenwoods Conservancy, NY and the Orono Bog Boardwalk, University of Maine for access to field sites.
Copyright information: © 2020 The Authors. Journal of Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Ecological Society. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.