Turnover of recently assimilated carbon in arctic bryophytes

L. E. Street, J. A. Subke, M. Sommerkorn, A. Heinemeyer, M. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carbon (C) allocation and turnover in arctic bryophytes is largely unknown, but their response to climatic change has potentially significant impacts on arctic ecosystem C budgets. Using a combination of pulse-chase experiments and a newly developed model of C turnover in bryophytes, we show significant differences in C turnover between two contrasting arctic moss species (Polytrichum piliferum and Sphagnum fuscum). 13C abundance in moss tissues (measured up to 1 year) and respired CO 2 (traced over 5 days) were used to parameterise the bryophyte C model with four pools representing labile and structural C in photosynthetic and stem tissue. The model was optimised using an Ensemble Kalman Filter to ensure a focus on estimating the confidence intervals (CI) on model parameters and outputs. The ratio of aboveground NPP:GPP in Polytrichum piliferum was 23% (CI 9-35%), with an average turnover time of 1.7 days (CI 1.1-2.5 days). The aboveground NPP:GPP ratio in Sphagnum fuscum was 43% (CI 19-65%) with an average turnover time of 3.1 days (CI 1.6-6.1 days). These results are the first to show differences in C partitioning between arctic bryophyte species in situ and highlight the importance of modelling C dynamics of this group separately from vascular plants for a realistic representation of vegetation in arctic C models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-337
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • C pulse-labelling
  • Autotrophic respiration
  • Carbon allocation
  • Carbon model
  • Mosses
  • NPP:GPP ratio
  • Photosynthesis

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