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28 March 2008 Changes in nutrient limitation of spring fen vegetation along environmental gradients in the West Carpathians
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Abstract

Question: How does nutrient limitation vary along major environmental gradients in fens and wet meadows?

Location: West Carpathians (Czech Republic, Slovakia).

Methods: We recorded total plant species composition in 83 plots of 9 m2. Living above-ground biomass of total vegetation was sampled. Concentrations of Ca, Fe, N, P, K were determined. Obtained data were analysed by various univariate and multivariate statistical techniques.

Results: Major environmental gradients correspond to the poor-rich vegetation gradient, from poor Sphagnum-fens to calcareous fens, and the fen-meadow gradient from sedge-moss fens to forb-rich wet meadows. Ca-concentration in above-ground biomass was strongly positively correlated with the poor-rich gradient, while Fe- and N-concentrations had an opposite trend. Poor-fen vegetation contained little calcium and much iron. The lowest P-concentrations were found in calcareous tufa-forming fens. Variation in N:K ratio indicated a slight decrease of K-availability towards poor fens. Along the fen-meadow gradient, vegetation uptake of P, K and Ca increases and the uptake of Fe decreases.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that variation in the type of nutrient limitation is not a dominant cause of the poor-rich gradient in fens due to the important role of calcium and iron. Nevertheless, species distribution along the poor-rich gradient is influenced by phosphorus shortage in tufa-forming fens and relatively high N-uptake and low K-availability in poor fens. Additional P- and K-supply to Ca-rich fens can alter species composition towards forb-rich meadows.

Nomenclature: Frey et al. (1995) for bryophytes; Kubát et al. (2002) for vascular plants.

Zuzana Rozbrojová and Michal Hájek "Changes in nutrient limitation of spring fen vegetation along environmental gradients in the West Carpathians," Journal of Vegetation Science 19(5), (28 March 2008). https://doi.org/10.3170/2008-8-18416
Received: 3 April 2007; Accepted: 1 October 2007; Published: 28 March 2008
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