Canadian Forest Service Publications
Sphagnum outcompetes feathermosses in their photosynthetic adaptation to postharvest black spruce forests. 2019. Zhu, Xinbiao; Nimmo, Victoria; Wu, Jianghua: and Thomas, Raymond. Botany, 97(11): 585-597
Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre
Catalog ID: 40026
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Mosses dominate the understory of black spruce forest, and changes in moss community composition and functional traits may influence many important ecosystem processes, particularly paludification due to accumulation of peat (mainly Sphagnum). To understand performance and fitness of ground-cover mosses in early forest succession following clearcutting, we investigated photosynthetic traits in Sphagnum and three feathermoss species (i.e., Hylocomium, Ptilium, and Pleurozium) coexisting in mature stands and decade-old black spruce harvest blocks. The results showed that all of these mosses have a significantly higher light saturation point at the harvested plots than the forested plots. Feathermosses at the harvested plots all underwent a reduction in quantum efficiency, chlorophyll b content, and chlorophylls:carotenoids ratio related to photoinhibition, particularly Pleurozium, which experienced a significant decrease in maximum net photosynthesis. In contrast, Sphagnum showed a significant increase in maximum gross photosynthesis, dark respiration, and the ratio of chlorophyll a:b at the harvested plots compared with the forested plots. The distinctive responses of moss photosynthetic traits indicate the potential proliferation of Sphagnum and decrease of feathermosses, and thus consequent peat accumulation. Our results emphasize the importance of the photosynthetic traits of moss as indicators of postharvest conditions for enhancing understory vegetation management to maintain and improve productivity of black spruce.