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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: High nitrogen-fixing rates associated with ground-covering mosses in a tropical mountain cloud forest will decrease drastically in a future climate
Author(s): Permin, Aya
Horwath, Aline B
Metcalfe, Daniel B
Priemé, Anders
Rousk, Kathrin
Keywords: bryophytes
climate change
nitrogen fixation
nitrogen input
tropical mountain cloud forest
Issue Date: Jul-2022
Date Deposited: 24-Jun-2022
Citation: Permin A, Horwath AB, Metcalfe DB, Priemé A & Rousk K (2022) High nitrogen-fixing rates associated with ground-covering mosses in a tropical mountain cloud forest will decrease drastically in a future climate. Functional Ecology, 36 (7), pp. 1772-1781.
Abstract: Tropical mountain cloud forests (TMCF) harbour a high bryophyte (mosses and liverworts) biomass and diversity. Furthermore, the high air humidity makes these forests well suited for bryophyte-associated nitrogen (N2) fixation by cyanobacteria, providing a potentially important source of N input to the ecosystem. However, few studies have assessed bryophyte-associated N input in these ecosystems, and these have focused on epiphytic bryophytes, whereas abundant ground-covering bryophytes have not been included. In this study, we quantified N2 fixation rates associated with bryophytes, focusing on ground-covering mosses in a neotropical mountain cloud forest. Furthermore, we identified the effects of climate change (higher temperature 10 vs. 20° and lower bryophyte moisture level 50% vs. 100%) on N2 fixation across bryophyte species and groups (mosses and liverworts). Nitrogen fixation rates associated with ground-covering moss species were up to 2 kg N ha−1 year−1, which is comparable to other N inputs (e.g. N deposition) in tropical cloud forests. Furthermore, changes in temperature showed little effect on N2 fixation, but low moisture levels significantly suppressed N2 fixation activity. We found low N2 fixation activity associated with the investigated liverworts. Our results demonstrate the importance of ground-covering, moss-associated N2 fixation as a N source in tropical cloud forests and suggest that predicted future declines in precipitation in these systems will reduce N inputs from bryophyte-associated cyanobacteria.
DOI Link: 10.1111/1365-2435.14088
Rights: © 2022 The Authors. Functional 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.
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