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  • J.M. Sarneel
  • J.J.M. Geurts
  • B. Beltman
  • L.P.M. Lamers
  • M.M. Nijzink
  • J.T.A. Verhoeven
Riparian ecosystems can harbor great diversity and provide important ecological functions such as improving water quality. The impact of eutrophication on riparian ecosystems, however, is unclear. We conducted a mesocosm experiment to study the effects of nutrient loading on riparian ecosystems. We specifically asked whether the source of nutrients in the riparian zone affects the complex interactions that occur between surface water and adjacent wetlands. We also studied litter decomposition in the wetland component of the mesocosms, because litter accumulation in fens is assumed to control succession toward floating mats. Each mesocosm consisted of an upland component, referred to as the bank, and a water compartment. The bank and water compartments were planted with typical riparian zone and open water fen species prior to the addition of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in different combinations to either the bank or the surface water. Nutrient addition (mainly P) resulted in increased plant production and higher expansion rates of plants on the bank and in the water. There were also clear interactions in plant responses between the bank and water. Only eutrophic species increased shoot densities after fertilization. Nutrient addition further resulted in higher litter production, especially on the banks, and stimulated decomposition. Both the plant responses and the litter experiment indicated that eutrophication would accelerate succession to floating mats. Such floating fen mats are not likely to have the typical species-rich combination of desirable species; however, as our results suggest that they would be dominated by a few eutrophic species.
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date2010

ID: 360143