Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nitrogen Deposition Reduces Swiss Plant Diversity

08.04.2015

High human atmospheric nitrogen emissions lead to a reduction of plant diversity. Researchers at the University of Basel analyzed plots all over Switzerland and report that the plant diversity has decreased in landscapes with high nitrogen deposition. The journal Royal Society Open Science has published their results.

Nitrogen is an essential plant nutrient that used to be available only in limited amounts. Many ecosystems rich in plant species are adapted to low nitrogen availability. An increase in nitrogen availability often favors a few highly competitive species, resulting in a decrease of the overall plant diversity.


Emissions produced in agriculture are responsible for two thirds of the nitrogen deposition in Switzerland. Nitrogen oxides produces by burning of fossil fuels are responsible for the other third.

© University of Basel

The researchers compared six different measures of plant diversity on 381 randomly selected study plots in Switzerland. The plots were each one square kilometer in size and located between 260 and 3200 meters elevation. In all six measures, the researchers found a negative relation to atmospheric nitrogen emissions.

“Negative effects of nitrogen deposition on plant diversity were so far known from small-scale studies conducted mostly in areas of high conservation value”, says first author Tobias Roth. “We wanted to know whether these effects are also evident when looking at entire landscapes and different elevations”.

The weakest relation was found in the traditionally measured species richness, which measures the number of plant species per plot. The biologists found the strongest effect in the so-called phylogenetic diversity, a measure that compares DNA sequences. High nitrogen deposition thus leads to plant species being more strongly related to each other.

The study estimates the loss in phylogenetic plant diversity due to current human-induced nitrogen deposition at 19 percent. As a reference value, the researchers used an estimated historic nitrogen deposition without human influence.

Compared to the historic reference value, the loss in traditionally measured plant species richness was 5 percent. The researchers also compared the data to nitrogen deposition measures from 1880, during the industrialization in Europe. The loss in phylogenetic plant diversity in this case was still 11 percent.

Great diversity important for ecosystem functioning

Phylogenetic plant diversity is directly related to ecosystem functioning. Because the study found negative effects on phylogenetic plant diversity at the landscape scale, the researchers conclude that human nitrogen emissions could ultimately threaten the functioning of whole ecosystems.

“High plant diversity is important to us humans for many reasons”, says Valentin Amrhein, co-senior author. “For example, in the mountains, a larger number of plant species with different root depths will stabilize the soil more effectively and prevent erosion”.

The 381 plots were investigated as part of the program “Biodiversity Monitoring Switzerland”, a program conducted on behalf of the Federal Office for the Environment. According to the Federal Commission for Air Hygiene, emissions produced in agriculture are responsible for two thirds of the nitrogen deposition in Switzerland. Nitrogen oxides produces by burning of fossil fuels are responsible for the other third.

Original source
Tobias Roth, Lukas Kohli, Beat Rihm, Valentin Amrhein and Beat Achermann
Nitrogen deposition and multi-dimensional plant diversity at the landscape scale
Royal Society Open Science xxxxxxxxxxxxx doi:

Further information
Dr. Tobias Roth, Hintermann & Weber AG, CH-4153 Reinach, phone +41 (0)61 717 88 62, email roth@hintermannweber.ch
PD Dr. Valentin Amrhein, University of Basel, Department of Environmental Sciences, Zoology, phone +41 (0)79 848 99 33, email v.amrhein@unibas.ch
Beat Achermann, Bundesamt für Umwelt BAFU, Abteilung Luftreinhaltung und Chemikalien, CH-3003 Bern, phone +41 (0)58 462 99 78, email: beat.achermann@bafu.admin.ch

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.unibas.ch/en/News-Events/News/Uni-Research/Nitrogen-Deposition-Reduc...

Olivia Poisson | Universität Basel

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

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: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>