Javascript is not activated in your browser. This website needs javascript activated to work properly.
You are here

N-2 Fixation in Feather Mosses is a Sensitive Indicator of N Deposition in Boreal Forests

  • Kathrin Ackermann
  • Olle Zackrisson
  • Johannes Rousk
  • David L. Jones
  • Thomas H. DeLuca
Publishing year: 2012
Language: English
Pages: 986-998
Publication/Series: Ecosystems
Volume: 15
Issue: 6
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Springer

Abstract english

Nitrogen (N) fixation in the feather moss-cyanobacteria association represents a major N source in boreal forests which experience low levels of N deposition; however, little is known about the effects of anthropogenic N inputs on the rate of fixation of atmospheric N-2 in mosses and the succeeding effects on soil nutrient concentrations and microbial community composition. We collected soil samples and moss shoots of Pleurozium schreberi at six distances along busy and remote roads in northern Sweden to assess the influence of road-derived N inputs on N-2 fixation in moss, soil nutrient concentrations and microbial communities. Soil nutrients were similar between busy and remote roads; N-2 fixation was higher in mosses along the remote roads than along the busy roads and increased with increasing distance from busy roads up to rates of N-2 fixation similar to remote roads. Throughfall N was higher in sites adjacent to the busy roads but showed no distance effect. Soil microbial phospholipid fatty acid (PLFA) composition exhibited a weak pattern regarding road type. Concentrations of bacterial and total PLFAs decreased with increasing distance from busy roads, whereas fungal PLFAs showed no distance effect. Our results show that N-2 fixation in feather mosses is highly affected by N deposition, here derived from roads in northern Sweden. Moreover, as other measured factors showed only weak differences between the road types, atmospheric N-2 fixation in feather mosses represents a highly sensitive indicator for increased N loads to natural systems.


  • Biological Sciences
  • acid deposition
  • bryophytes
  • acetylene reduction
  • microbial biomarker
  • nitrogen fertilization
  • anthropogenic global change


  • Effect of environmental factors on fungal and bacterial growth in soil
  • Microbial carbon-use efficiency
  • Microbial Ecology
  • ISSN: 1432-9840
JR photo
E-mail: johannes [dot] rousk [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer


+46 46 222 37 45



Research group


Doctoral students and postdocs

PhD students, main supervisor

Visiting PhD students, main supervisor

PhD students, assistant supervisor


Downloads & links