Effect of warming on ground vegetation in Carpathian Norway spruce stands, exemplified by European blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) nutrient stoichiometry

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Sci Total Environ. 2023 Aug 17:166396. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166396. Online ahead of print.


Despite its small share of total forest biomass, ground vegetation plays an important role in biogeochemical cycles, being able to modify carbon (C) and nutrients fluxes. Global climate warming may affect plant nutrient uptake and the carbon:nitrogen:phosphorus (C:N:P) stoichiometry, the release of nutrients from the soil and soil organic matter, as well as significantly influence the tree stand nutrient supply. In this context, the response of Norway spruce (Picea abies (L.) H.Karst) stands’ ground vegetation to warming is uncertain. An open-top chamber soil-warming simulation, lasting two growing seasons, was conducted in a spruce forest. At the end of each of the two growing seasons, before leaf senescence, European blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) aboveground biomass (leaves and stems) and mineral topsoil samples were collected from the plots. The C, N, P, micronutrient, and macronutrient concentrations were estimated in the samples. Warming caused significant decreases in C, N, and P in the soil. Warming also decreased the C:P and N:P stoichiometric ratios in the soil and increased the C:P ratio in plant stems. Significant increase in foliar C and decrease in foliar P in warmed plots were observed. The most evident effect was reduction of N and P in the soil, which directly affected the plant C:P and soil N:P stoichiometry. Our results show that warming has caused a significant decrease in the content of some nutrients in the aboveground plant tissues of blueberries. Given that N is a limiting factor of ecosystems productivity, its reduction in the soil caused by warming may be a serious threat to proper nutrient uptake and cause disruption of biogeochemical cycles. The decrease in nutrient content in aboveground tissues due to warming can result in disruptions to physiological processes.

PMID:37597568 | DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.166396

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