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Growth Response of Sphagnum capillifolium to Nighttime Temperature and Nutrient Level: Mechanisms and Implications for Global Change
Renato Gerdol, Angelo Bonora, Roberta Marchesini, Rita Gualandri and Simonetta Pancaldi
Arctic and Alpine Research
Vol. 30, No. 4 (Nov., 1998), pp. 388-395
Published by: INSTAAR, University of Colorado
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1552011
Page Count: 8
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Individuals of Sphagnum capillifolium were cultured for 2 mo under six different combinations of nighttime temperature and nutrients. Low nighttime temperature caused a five-fold reduction of growth. Growth was also reduced when the plants were cultured without any addition of nutrient in the growing medium, but only when nutrient deficiency was coupled with high nighttime temperature. Growth reduction was associated with decreased rates of net photosynthesis, but was not accompanied by a degradation of photosynthetic pigments and/or variations in the pigment ratios, nor was the ultrastructure of chloroplasts significantly altered. The decline in the net photosynthetic rate may be due to a limitation in the enzymatic reactions at unfavorable temperatures. Nitrogen and, especially, phosphorus appeared to limit growth of Sphagnum capillifolium at optimal temperatures. A nighttime temperature of 5°C was above the lower threshold triggering the synthesis of red wall-pigments, known to be promoted by nighttime chilling. Climate warming is expected to increase the growth rates of Sphagnum, but the consequences on the carbon balance of peatlands cannot be predicted because temperature rise may also enhance breakdown of peat.