Skip to main content
Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2008

Nitrogen uptake by Hylocomium splendens during snowmelt in a boreal forest

Forsum, Asa; Laudon, Hjalmar; Nordin, Annika


In most boreal regions snow composes a large portion of the annual precipitation. Although many boreal forest floor bryophytes depend largely on precipitation for their nitrogen (N) supply, bryophyte uptake of snow N little explored. We studied chemical forms of plant-accessible N in snowmelt, as well as the temporal dynamics of their release. In conjuction we performed a N uptake experiment using the common boreal bryophyte Hylocomium splendens. the results demonstrated that the snowmelt N pool was dominated by NO3 (86%), followed by NH4+ (11%) and amino acid N (3%), in total providing ca 0.3 kg N.ha(-1) to the forest floor vegetation. Hylocomium splendens was able to access both inorganic and organic N-15 labelled N forms (NO3-, NH4+, and glycine) applied in situ to the snow covering the moss prior to snowmelt. Across all the N forms H. splendens took up ca 24% of the snow-deposited N. Nitrate uptake exceeded that of glycine, while NH4+ uptake was intermediate, reflecting the ambient distribution of the snowmelt N pool between plant-accessible N forms.


amino acid N; ammonium; bryophyte ecophysiology; nitrate

Published in

2008, Volume: 15, number: 3, pages: 315-319