Report

Impact of Nitrogen Deposition on the Species Richness of Grasslands

Science  19 Mar 2004:
Vol. 303, Issue 5665, pp. 1876-1879
DOI: 10.1126/science.1094678

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Abstract

A transect of 68 acid grasslands across Great Britain, covering the lower range of ambient annual nitrogen deposition in the industrialized world (5 to 35 kg Nha–1 year–1), indicates that long-term, chronic nitrogen deposition has significantly reduced plant species richness. Species richness declines as a linear function of the rate of inorganic nitrogen deposition, with a reduction of one species per 4-m2 quadrat for every 2.5 kg Nha–1 year–1 of chronic nitrogen deposition. Species adapted to infertile conditions are systematically reduced at high nitrogen deposition. At the mean chronic nitrogen deposition rate of central Europe (17 kg Nha–1 year–1), there is a 23% species reduction compared with grasslands receiving the lowest levels of nitrogen deposition.

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