Response of desert moss to increasing nitrogen deposition

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Syntrichia caninervis dominates species in moss crusts in many northern hemisphere desert ecosystems, which are facing disturbance from increasing N deposition. Zhang et al. give evidence from simulated N deposition experiments suggesting that low amounts of added N increase shoot length and leaf size of S. caninervis, whereas high doses reduce almost all growth parameters. Moss shoot density increased but population biomass decreased with high N.

Representative shoots (upper images) and leaves (lower images) of Syntrichia caninervis from the N addition treatments illustrate the different shoot lengths and leaf length.
Representative shoots (upper images) and leaves (lower images) of Syntrichia caninervis from the N addition treatments illustrate the different shoot lengths and leaf length. Image by Zhang et al. (2016)

Responses of physiological parameters were similar to the growth indices. Therefore, low amounts of added N (0–0.5 g N m–2 year–1) may enhance moss growth and vitality, while higher amounts have detrimental effects.

Reference

Yuanming Zhang, Xiaobing Zhou, Benfeng Yin, Alison Downing, 2016, 'Sensitivity of the xerophytic mossSyntrichia caninervisto prolonged simulated nitrogen deposition', Annals of Botany, vol. 117, no. 7, pp. 1153-1161 http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/aob/mcw058


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