Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Mark E. Fenn; Jill S. Baron; Edith B. Allen; Heather M. Rueth; Koren R. Nydick; Linda Geiser; William D. Bowman; James O. Sickman; Thomas Meixner; Dale W. Johnson; Peter Neitlich
    Date: 2003
    Source: BioScience 53(4):404-420
    Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication
    PDF: Download Publication  (899 KB)


    In the western United States vast acreages of land are exposed to low levels of atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition, with interspersed hotspots of elevated N deposition downwind of large, expanding metropolitan centers or large agricultural operations. Biological response studies in western North America demonstrate that some aquatic and terrestrial plant and microbial communities are significantly altered by N deposition. Greater plant productivity is counterbalanced by biotic community changes and deleterious effects on sensitive organisms (lichens and phytoplankton) that respond to low inputs of N (3 to 8 kilograms N per hectare per year). Streamwater nitrate concentrations are elevated in high-elevation catchments in Colorado and are unusually high in southern California and in some chaparral catchments in the southwestern Sierra Nevada. Chronic N deposition in the West is implicated in increased fire frequency in some areas and habitat alteration for threatened species. Between hotspots, N deposition is too low to cause noticeable effects or has not been studied.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Fenn, Mark E.; Baron, Jill S.; Allen, Edith B.; Rueth, Heather M.; Nydick, Koren R.; Geiser, Linda; Bowman, William D.; Sickman, James O.; Meixner, Thomas; Johnson, Dale W.; Neitlich, Peter. 2003. Ecological effects of nitrogen deposition in the western United States. BioScience 53(4):404-420


    Nitrogen saturation, streamwater nitrate, eutrophication, lichens, biotic communities

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page