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      Estimating global nitrous oxide emissions by lichens and bryophytes with a process-based productivity model

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      Biogeosciences

      Copernicus GmbH

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          Abstract

          Nitrous oxide is a strong greenhouse gas and atmospheric ozone-depleting agent which is largely emitted by soils. Recently, lichens and bryophytes have also been shown to release significant amounts of nitrous oxide. This finding relies on ecosystem-scale estimates of net primary productivity of lichens and bryophytes, which are converted to nitrous oxide emissions by empirical relationships between productivity and respiration, as well as between respiration and nitrous oxide release. Here we obtain an alternative estimate of nitrous oxide emissions which is based on a global process-based non-vascular vegetation model of lichens and bryophytes. The model quantifies photosynthesis and respiration of lichens and bryophytes directly as a function of environmental conditions, such as light and temperature. Nitrous oxide emissions are then derived from simulated respiration assuming a fixed relationship between the two fluxes. This approach yields a global estimate of 0.27 (0.19–0.35) (Tg N<sub>2</sub>O) year<sup>−1</sup> released by lichens and bryophytes. This is lower than previous estimates but corresponds to about 50 % of the atmospheric deposition of nitrous oxide into the oceans or 25 % of the atmospheric deposition on land. Uncertainty in our simulated estimate results from large variation in emission rates due to both physiological differences between species and spatial heterogeneity of climatic conditions. To constrain our predictions, combined online gas exchange measurements of respiration and nitrous oxide emissions may be helpful.

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          Most cited references 24

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          Contribution of cryptogamic covers to the global cycles of carbon and nitrogen

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            Quantifying nitrogen-fixation in feather moss carpets of boreal forests.

            Biological nitrogen (N) fixation is the primary source of N within natural ecosystems, yet the origin of boreal forest N has remained elusive. The boreal forests of Eurasia and North America lack any significant, widespread symbiotic N-fixing plants. With the exception of scattered stands of alder in early primary successional forests, N-fixation in boreal forests is considered to be extremely limited. Nitrogen-fixation in northern European boreal forests has been estimated at only 0.5 kg N ha(-1) yr(-1); however, organic N is accumulated in these ecosystems at a rate of 3 kg N ha(-1) yr(-1) (ref. 8). Our limited understanding of the origin of boreal N is unacceptable given the extent of the boreal forest region, but predictable given our imperfect knowledge of N-fixation. Herein we report on a N-fixing symbiosis between a cyanobacterium (Nostoc sp.) and the ubiquitous feather moss, Pleurozium schreberi (Bird) Mitt. that alone fixes between 1.5 and 2.0 kg N ha(-1) yr(-1) in mid- to late-successional forests of northern Scandinavia and Finland. Previous efforts have probably underestimated N-fixation potential in boreal forests.
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              “Modelling of photosynthetic response to environmental conditions,”

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Biogeosciences
                Biogeosciences
                Copernicus GmbH
                1726-4189
                2017
                March 28 2017
                : 14
                : 6
                : 1593-1602
                Article
                10.5194/bg-14-1593-2017
                © 2017
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