Response of C and N cycles to N fertilization in Sphagnum and Molinia-dominated peat mesocosms

Fabien Leroy , Sébastien Gogo , Christophe Guimbaud , André-Jean Francez , Renata Zocatelli , Christian Défarge , Léonard Bernard-Jannin , Zhen Hu , Fatima Laggoun-Défarge


Received August 03, 2017,Revised , Accepted August 16, 2018, Available online August 29, 2018

Volume 31,2019,Pages 264-272

Plant communities play an important role in the C-sink function of peatlands. However, global change and local perturbations are expected to modify peatland plant communities, leading to a shift from Sphagnum mosses to vascular plants. Most studies have focused on the direct effects of modification in plant communities or of global change (such as climate warming, N fertilization) in peatlands without considering interactions between these disturbances that may alter peatlands' C function. We set up a mesocosm experiment to investigate how Greenhouse Gas (CO2, CH4, N2O) fluxes, and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and total dissolved N (TN) contents are affected by a shift from Sphagnum mosses to Molinia caerulea dominated peatlands combined with N fertilization. Increasing N deposition did not alter the C fluxes (CO2 exchanges, CH4 emissions) or DOC content. The lack of N effect on the C cycle seems due to the capacity of Sphagnum to efficiently immobilize N. Nevertheless, N supply increased the N2O emissions, which were also controlled by the plant communities with the presence of Molinia caerulea reducing N2O emissions in the Sphagnum mesocosms. Our study highlights the role of the vegetation composition on the C and N fluxes in peatlands and their responses to the N deposition. Future research should now consider the climate change in interaction to plants community modifications due to their controls of peatland sensitivity to environmental conditions.

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