Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fossil Fuels And Nitrogen Fertilizers May Be Slowly Reducing The Number Of Plant Species Globally, Study Says

Date:
February 12, 2008
Source:
University of Minnesota
Summary:
The number of plant species worldwide may be dwindling from the effects of chronic low levels of nitrogen on terrestrial ecosystems, according to a University of Minnesota study. Loss of biodiversity from high levels of atmospheric nitrogen has been reported in parts of Europe and the United States, but this is the first long-term study of the impact of much lower levels of nitrogen deposition over much of the developed world.

The number of plant species worldwide may be dwindling from the effects of chronic low levels of nitrogen on terrestrial ecosystems, according to a University of Minnesota study.

Related Articles


Loss of biodiversity from high levels of atmospheric nitrogen has been reported in parts of Europe and the United States, but this is the first long-term study of the impact of much lower levels of nitrogen deposition over much of the developed world.

The study, conducted by David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology, and former university graduate student Christopher Clark, will be published in the Feb. 7 issue of Nature. Research was carried out at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, a field station operated by the university's College of Biological Sciences.

"Even at low levels, comparable to nitrogen deposition over many industrialized nations, we lost about one plant species in six at our test site [17 percent over 23 years]," Clark said. Rare species were more vulnerable to loss than common species.

But Clarke and Tilman also discovered some good news -- that the loss of species can be reversed. Thirteen years after addition of nitrogen was stopped, species numbers had recovered.

"Many ecosystems worldwide may be losing plant species because of nitrogen deposition from fossil fuel combustion and agricultural fertilizers," said Tilman. "But with a rapid, coordinated national and international effort, we can likely stem or reverse these losses of biodiversity."

Over the past 60 years, fossil fuel combustion and agricultural fertilizers have doubled the amount of nitrogen inputs to terrestrial ecosystems worldwide. The level could double again as nations in Asia and South America industrialize.

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth, but too much causes a few species to flourish at the expense of their competitors. Within an ecosystem, species have different roles that contribute to the productivity and stability of the community. When some species are missing, the functioning of the ecosystem as a whole is impaired.

The study was performed in three prairie-like grassland ecosystems at Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. All of the plots were treated with varying levels of nitrogen addition from 1982 to 1991. Treatments to half of the plots in one of the fields were stopped after 1991, but nitrogen addition has been continued in all other plots.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Minnesota. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Minnesota. "Fossil Fuels And Nitrogen Fertilizers May Be Slowly Reducing The Number Of Plant Species Globally, Study Says." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 February 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080207171703.htm>.
University of Minnesota. (2008, February 12). Fossil Fuels And Nitrogen Fertilizers May Be Slowly Reducing The Number Of Plant Species Globally, Study Says. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080207171703.htm
University of Minnesota. "Fossil Fuels And Nitrogen Fertilizers May Be Slowly Reducing The Number Of Plant Species Globally, Study Says." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/02/080207171703.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

Raw: Lava on Track to Hit Hawaii Market

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) Lava from an active volcano on Hawaii's Big Island slowed slightly but stayed on track to hit a shopping center in the small town of Pahoa. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Arctic Warming Twice As Fast As Rest Of Planet

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, thanks in part to something called feedback. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins