Document Type

Article

Publication Date

8-2019

Department

Michigan Tech Research Institute

Abstract

Bogs and fens cover 6% and 21%, respectively, of the 140,329 km2 Oil Sands Administrative Area in northern Alberta. Development of the oil sands has led to increasing atmospheric N deposition, with values as high as 17 kg N.ha-1yr-1; regional background deposition is <2 kg N.ha-1yr-1. Bogs, being ombrotrophic, may be especially susceptible to increasing N deposition. To examine responses to N deposition, over five years, we experimentally applied N (as NH4NO3) to a bog near Mariana Lake, Alberta, unaffected by oil sands activities, at rates of 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 kg N.ha-1yr-1, plus controls (no water or N addition). Increasing N addition: (1) stimulated N2 fixation at deposition <3.1 kg N.ha-1yr-1, and progressively inhibited N2 fixation as N deposition increased above this level; (2) had no effect on Sphagnum fuscum net primary production (NPP) in years 1, 2, and 4, but inhibited S. fuscum NPP in years 3 and 5; (3) stimulated dominant shrub and Picea mariana NPP; (4) led to increased root biomass and production; (5) changed Sphagnum species relative abundance (decrease in S. fuscum, increase in S. magellanicum, no effect on S. angustifolium); (6) led to increasing abundance of Rhododendron groenlandicum and Andromeda polifolia, and to vascular plants in general; (7) led to increasing shrub leaf N concentrations in Andromeda polifolia, Chamaedaphne calyculata, Vaccinium oxycoccos, V. vitis-idaea, and Picea mariana; (8) stimulated cellulose decomposition, with no effect on S. fuscum peat or mixed vascular plant litter decomposition; (9) had no effect on net N mineralization rates or on porewater NH4+-N, NO3--N, or DON concentrations; and (10) had minimal effects on peat microbial community composition. Increasing experimental N addition led to a switch from new N being taken up primarily by Sphagnum to being taken up primarily by shrubs. As shrub growth and cover increase, Sphagnum abundance and NPP decrease. Because inhibition of N2 fixation by increasing N deposition plays a key role in bog structural and functional responses, we recommend a N deposition critical load of 3 kg N.ha-1yr-1 for northern Alberta bogs.

Publisher's Statement

© 2019 The Authors. Ecological Monographs published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of Ecological Society of America. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1002/ecm.1371

Publication Title

Ecological Monographs

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Version

Publisher's PDF

Share

COinS
 
 

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.