Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Research Shows Humans Have More Impact on Tropical Nitrogen Levels

20.05.2014

A new paper co-written by four University of Montana researchers finds that humans have more than doubled tropical nitrogen inputs.

Benjamin Sullivan, a researcher working with UM College of Forestry and Conservation Professor Cory Cleveland, led the team that looked at the nitrogen cycle in tropical rain forests. Sullivan and his colleagues used a new method to demonstrate that biological nitrogen fixation in tropical rain forests may be less than a quarter of previous estimates.

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant and animal life. It’s required in many basic molecules, like DNA and amino acids. Nitrogen enters the environment either through a microbial process called biological nitrogen fixation or through human activity, such as fertilization and fossil-fuel consumption.

Too much nitrogen, however, leads to dead zones, pollutes air and drinking water, contributes to a number of human illnesses, and can affect ecosystems negatively. That could be a problem, given the high biodiversity of tropical rain forests and their important role in the global carbon cycle and the Earth’s climate.

 “This research fundamentally changes our understanding of the tropical nitrogen cycle,” said Sullivan. “It shows that few ecosystems on Earth have escaped the impact of human activity.”

He notes that human impacts on the nitrogen cycle typically are greatest where biological nitrogen fixation is low and human inputs of nitrogen are high – like in many parts of North America, including Montana.

Past research has assumed that tropical rain forests have high levels of biological nitrogen fixation and that humans add relatively little nitrogen to tropical ecosystems. In fact, by reducing estimates of naturally occurring nitrogen inputs, “this research shows that human impacts on the nitrogen cycle are even bigger than we thought. Preserving human and ecosystem health requires immediate steps to solve this growing problem,” Cleveland said.

Sullivan worked with UM doctoral student Megan Nasto and researcher Bill Smith. Smith provided the spatial data analysis that put Sullivan’s field and lab-tested results into a global context. Co-authors also include UM alumna Sasha Reed at the U.S. Geological Survey, and researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of Connecticut.

The research paper, titled “Spatially Robust Estimates of Biological Nitrogen (N) Fixation Imply Substantial Human Alteration of the Tropical N Cycle,” was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Benjamin Sullivan | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://news.umt.edu/2014/05/051914nitr.aspx

Further reports about: Human acids activity amino ecosystem ecosystems estimates fixation forests fossil-fuel microbial nitrogen tropical

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Traffic emissions may pollute 1 in 3 Canadian homes
22.04.2015 | University of Toronto Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering

nachricht Engineers purify sea and wastewater in 2.5 minutes
17.04.2015 | Investigación y Desarrollo

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fast and Accurate 3-D Imaging Technique to Track Optically-Trapped Particles

KAIST researchers published an article on the development of a novel technique to precisely track the 3-D positions of optically-trapped particles having complicated geometry in high speed in the April 2015 issue of Optica.

Daejeon, Republic of Korea, April 23, 2015--Optical tweezers have been used as an invaluable tool for exerting micro-scale force on microscopic particles and...

Im Focus: NOAA, Tulane identify second possible specimen of 'pocket shark' ever found

Pocket sharks are among the world's rarest finds

A very small and rare species of shark is swimming its way through scientific literature. But don't worry, the chances of this inches-long vertebrate biting...

Im Focus: Drexel materials scientists putting a new spin on computing memory

Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits into place to encode data.

Unfortunately, the same drawbacks and perils of the mechanical sketch board have been just as pervasive in computing: making a change often requires starting...

Im Focus: Exploding stars help to understand thunderclouds on Earth

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was discovered, more or less by coincidence, that cosmic rays provide suitable probes to measure electric fields within thunderclouds. This surprising finding is published in Physical Review Letters on April 24th. The measurements were performed with the LOFAR radio telescope located in the Netherlands.

How is lightning initiated in thunderclouds? This is difficult to answer - how do you measure electric fields inside large, dangerously charged clouds? It was...

Im Focus: On the trail of a trace gas

Max Planck researcher Buhalqem Mamtimin determines how much nitrogen oxide is released into the atmosphere from agriculturally used oases.

In order to make statements about current and future air pollution, scientists use models which simulate the Earth’s atmosphere. A lot of information such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

HHL Energy Conference on May 11/12, 2015: Students Discuss about Decentralized Energy

23.04.2015 | Event News

“Developing our cities, preserving our planet”: Nobel Laureates gather for the first time in Asia

23.04.2015 | Event News

HHL's Entrepreneurship Conference on FinTech

13.04.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrons Move Like Light in Three-Dimensional Solid

24.04.2015 | Materials Sciences

Connecting Three Atomic Layers Puts Semiconducting Science on Its Edge

24.04.2015 | Materials Sciences

Understanding the Body’s Response to Worms and Allergies

24.04.2015 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>