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Nitrogen deposition threatens species richness of grasslands across Europe

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

  • Carly Stevens
  • C. Dupre
  • E. Dorland
  • C. Gaudnik
  • D.J.G. Gowing
  • A. Bleeker
  • M. Diekmann
  • D. Alard
  • R. Bobbink
  • D. Fowler
  • E. Corcket
  • J.O. Mountford
  • V. Vandvik
  • P.A. Aarrestad
  • S. Muller
  • N.B. Dise
Journal publication date2010
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Journal number9
Volume158
Number of pages6
Pages2940-2945
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Evidence from an international survey in the Atlantic biogeographic region of Europe indicates that chronic nitrogen deposition is reducing plant species richness in acid grasslands. Across the deposition gradient in this region (2–44 kg N ha−1 yr−1) species richness showed a curvilinear response, with greatest reductions in species richness when deposition increased from low levels. This has important implications for conservation policies, suggesting that to protect the most sensitive grasslands resources should be focussed where deposition is currently low. Soil pH is also an important driver of species richness indicating that the acidifying effect of nitrogen deposition may be contributing to species richness reductions. The results of this survey suggest that the impacts of nitrogen deposition can be observed over a large geographical range.