Nitrogen and sulphur deposition and the growth of Sphagnum fuscum in bogs of the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, Alberta

https://doi.org/10.4081/jlimnol.2010.s1.161

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Abstract

One of the consequences of ongoing development of the oil sands reserve in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region (AOSR) near Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada (56° 39' N, 111° 13' W) is an increase in emissions of nitrogen (N) and sulphur (S), with an attendant increases in regional atmospheric N and S deposition. Regional land cover across northeastern Alberta is a mixture of Boreal Mixedwood, Boreal Highlands, and Subarctic areas. Peatlands occupy between 22 and 66% of these natural regions, and the land cover of bogs varies between 6.7% in the Mixedwood Region to 46% in the Subarctic Region. Ombrotrophic bog ecosystems may be especially sensitive to atmospheric deposition of N and S. Across 10 ombrotrophic bog sites in the AOSR over four years (2005– 2008), we found no evidence of elevated deposition of NH4 +-N, NO3 –-N, total inorganic nitrogen (TIN; NH4 +-N plus NO3 –-N), or SO4 2–-S, with values measured using ion exchange resin collectors averaging 0.61 ± 04, 0.20 ± 0.01, 0.81 ± 0.04, and 1.14 ± 0.06 kg ha–1 y–1, respectively. Vertical growth and net primary production of Sphagnum fuscum, an indicator of elevated deposition, did not differ consistently across sites, averaging 11.8 ± 0.2 mm y–1 and 234 ± 3.3 g m–2 y–1, respectively, over the four years. Neither vertical growth nor net primary production of S. fuscum was correlated with growing season atmospheric N or S deposition. Our data provide a valuable benchmark of background values for monitoring purposes in anticipation of increasing N and S deposition over a broader geographic region within the AOSR.

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Published
2010-08-01
Keywords:
Sphagnum fuscum, nitrogen deposition, sulphur deposition, Athabasca Oil Sands Region, peatland, bog, Canada
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1.
WIEDER KR, VITT DH, BURKE-SCOLL M, SCOTT KD, HOUSE M, VILE MA. Nitrogen and sulphur deposition and the growth of Sphagnum fuscum in bogs of the Athabasca Oil Sands Region, Alberta. J Limnol [Internet]. 2010 Aug. 1 [cited 2021 Aug. 5];69(s1):161-70. Available from: https://www.jlimnol.it/index.php/jlimnol/article/view/jlimnol.2010.s1.161