Epiphytic lichen responses to nitrogen deposition

Detta är en avhandling från Umeå : Institutionen för ekologi, miljö och geovetenskap, Umeå universitet

Sammanfattning: Nitrogen (N) deposition has increased globally over the last 150 years and further increase is predicted for the future. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for lichens, involved in many processes in both photobiont and mycobiont.  However, N can be a stressor, causing many lichens and lichen communities to disappear with increased deposition. The objective of this thesis was to investigate the response of epiphytic lichens to increased N load. This was done by simulating an increased N deposition to lichens in a boreal forest with low background N, including both short term studies with transplanted lichens and long term studies of naturally established lichens. Alectoria sarmentosa was used as a model species for a N-sensitive lichens and Platismatia glauca as a relatively more N-tolerant lichen. Nitrogen deposition was simulated by daily spraying during the growing season with water and isotopically labeled ammonium nitrate (NH4NO3). In Paper I, I found that when N is supplied in realistic doses (equivalent to deposition of 0.6, 6, 12.5, 25 and 50 kg N ha-1), there were no significant differences in uptake of NO3- or NH4+ in either of the lichen species. The results in Paper II indicate that A. samentosa may be limited by phosphorous (P) and not N limited as expected. That study highlights the importance of P, when studying the effects of N deposition, since P can both mitigate and intensify the negative effects of N on epiphytic lichens. Paper III shows that four years of simulated N deposition caused an alteration of the epiphytic lichen community, since A. sarmentosa decreased in the highest N loads (25 and 50 kg ha-1 year-1), Bryoria spp. decreased to 12.5 kg N and higher loads and Hypogymnia physodes decreased over time for all treatments except in 12.5 kg ha-1, where it only decreased during the first treatment year and then increased after 2007.  The abundance of Platismatia glauca increased over time, independent of treatment. As hypothesized, responses to the treatments differed among species, reflecting their different N optima. In paper IV, the effects of N on carbon-based secondary compounds were studied. None of the studied species (P. glauca, A. sarmentosa, Lobaria scrobiculata and Xanthoria aureola) reduced their concentration of secondary compounds during the experimental period, but in P. glauca the concentration of all compounds were significantly lower in N treated thalli compared with control thalli. The results are consistent with a high degree of constitutive defence in three of the four studied lichens, and we conclude that all four studied lichens seem to have a robust chemical defence system despite considerable manipulation of the environmental conditions. However, we don't know if these lichens are able to keep up the high protection level over longer periods comprising a number of years when more new tissue is formed. In conclusion, long term experiments are necessary to understand lichen response to environmental changes.