Köchy, M., and S. Bråkenhielm (2008)
The effect of moderate rates of nitrogen deposition on ground floor vegetation is poorly predicted by uncontrolled surveys or fertilization experiments using high rates of nitrogen (N) addition. We compared the temporal trends of ground floor vegetation in permanent plots with moderate (7-13 kg·ha−1·yr−1) and lower bulk N deposition (4-6 kg·ha–1·yr−1) in southern Sweden during 1982-1998. We examined whether trends differed between growth forms (vascular plants and bryophytes) and vegetation types (three types of coniferous forest, deciduous forest, and bog). Trends of site-standardized cover and richness varied among growth forms, vegetation types, and deposition regions. Cover in spruce forests decreased at the same rate with both moderate and low deposition. In pine forests cover decreased faster with moderate deposition and in bogs cover decreased faster with low deposition. Cover of bryophytes in spruce forests increased at the same rate with both moderate and low deposition. In pine forests cover decreased faster with moderate deposition and in bogs and deciduous forests there was a strong non-linear increase with moderate deposition. The trend of number of vascular plants was constant with moderate and decreased with low deposition. We found no trend in the number of bryophyte species. We propose that the decrease of cover and number with low deposition was related to normal ecosystem development (increased shading), suggesting that N deposition maintained or increased the competitiveness of some species in the moderate-deposition region. Deposition had no consistent negative effect on vegetation suggesting that it is less important than normal successional processes.