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 International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

nachricht World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung

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: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Astronomers find unexpected, dust-obscured star formation in distant galaxy

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Gravitational wave kicks monster black hole out of galactic core

24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>