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Is the bryophyte soil diaspore bank buffered against nutrient enrichment and grazing exclusion?
Plant and Soil  (IF4.192),  Pub Date : 2022-04-22, DOI: 10.1007/s11104-022-05450-0
Risto Virtanen, Jonathan D. Bakker, Maria-Theresa Jessen, Lauren L. Sullivan, W. Stanley Harpole, Anu Eskelinen

Purpose

Soil diaspore banks of bryophytes are poorly known in tundra grasslands, yet can be important for the maintenance of local bryophyte assemblages. We examined the effects of fertilization and grazing exclusion on above-ground bryophyte assemblages and soil diaspore banks in a tundra grassland.

Methods

We collected soil diaspore samples and recorded the cover of above-ground bryophytes from a full-factorial experiment with NPK fertilization and grazing exclusion treatments (a Nutrient Network site in NW Finland). Soil diaspore samples were germinated on trays in a greenhouse. We analyzed the compositions of diaspore bank assemblages and of above-ground assemblages and assessed their responses to the experimental treatments.

Results

The diaspore bank contained c. 50% of taxa found in above-ground assemblages; 26 bryophyte taxa germinated from the diaspore bank, while 40 taxa were found in the above-ground assemblages. These communities had distinct species compositions: the diaspore bank was dominated by Pohlia nutans, while above-ground assemblages were dominated by several species. NPK fertilization and grazing exclusion had negative effects on bryophyte richness and cover in above-ground assemblages, and weaker effects on these responses in the diaspore bank.

Conclusion

Soil diaspore banks comprise about half of the bryophyte taxa encountered in above-ground assemblages. Bryophyte diaspore banks are more buffered against nutrient enrichment and grazing exclusion than above-ground assemblages, suggesting that diaspore banks may enhance persistence and recovery of local bryophyte assemblages from environmental changes.