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Nitrogen excess in North American ecosystems: predisposing factors, ecosystem responses, and management strategiesAuthor(s): Mark E. Fenn; Mark A. Poth; John D. Aber; Jill S. Baron; Bernard T. Bormann; Dale W. Johnson; A. Dennis Lemly; Steven G. McNulty; Douglas F. Ryan; Robert Stottlemyer
Source: Ecological Applications 8(3):706-733
Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
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DescriptionMost forests in North America remain nitrogen limited, although recent studies have identified forested areas that exhibit symptoms of N excess, analogous to overfertilization of arable land. Nitrogen excess in watersheds is detrimental because of disruptions in plantlsoil nutrient relations, increased soil acidification and aluminum mobility, increased emissions of nitrogenous greenhouse gases from soil, reduced methane consumption in soil, decreased water quality, toxic effects on freshwater biota, and eutrophication of coastal marine waters. Elevated nitrate (NO3-) loss to groundwater or surface waters is the primary symptom of N excess. Additional symptoms include increasing N concentrations and higher N:nutrient ratios in foliage (i.e., N:Mg, N:P), foliar accumulation of amino acids or NO3-, and low soil C:N ratios. Recent nitrogen-fertilization studies in New England and Europe provide preliminary evidence that some forests receiving chronic N inputs may decline in productivity and experience greater mortality. Long-term fertilization at Mount Ascutney, Vermont, suggests that declining and slow N-cycling coniferous stands may be replaced by fast-growing and fast N-cycling deciduous forests.
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CitationFenn, Mark E.; Poth, Mark A.; Aber, John D.; Baron, Jill S.; Bormann, Bernard T.; Johnson, Dale W.; Lemly, A. Dennis; McNulty, Steven G.; Ryan, Douglas F.; Stottlemyer, Robert. 1998. Nitrogen excess in North American ecosystems: predisposing factors, ecosystem responses, and management strategies. Ecological Applications 8(3):706-733
KeywordsAtmospheric nitrogen deposition, eutrophication, forest ecosystems, nitrate leaching, nitrogen cycling, nztrogen saturation, soil acidification
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