Atmospheric nitrogen deposition in world biodiversity hotspots: the need for a greater global perspective in assessing N deposition impacts

G.K. Phoenix, W.K. Hicks, S. Cinderby, J.C.I. Kuylenstierna, W.D. Stock, F.J. Dentener, K.E. Giller, A.T. Austin, R.D.B. Lefroy, B.S. Gimeno, M.R. Ashmore, P. Ineson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

357 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Increased atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition is known to reduce plant diversity in natural and semi-natural ecosystems, yet our understanding of these impacts comes almost entirely from studies in northern Europe and North America. Currently, we lack an understanding of the threat of N deposition to biodiversity at the global scale. In particular, rates of N deposition within the newly defined 34 world biodiversity hotspots, to which 50% of the world's floristic diversity is restricted, has not been quantified previously. Using output from global chemistry transport models, here we provide the first estimates of recent (mid-1990s) and future (2050) rates and distributions of N deposition within biodiversity hotspots. Our analysis shows that the average deposition rate across these areas was 50% greater than the global terrestrial average in the mid-1990s and could more than double by 2050, with 33 of 34 hotspots receiving greater N deposition in 2050 compared with 1990. By this time, 17 hotspots could have between 10% and 100% of their area receiving greater than 15 kg N ha1 yr1, a rate exceeding critical loads set for many sensitive European ecosystems. Average deposition in four hotspots is predicted to be greater than 20 kg N ha1 yr1. This elevated N deposition within areas of high plant diversity and endemism may exacerbate significantly the global threat of N deposition to world floristic diversity. Overall, we highlight the need for a greater global approach to assessing the impacts of N deposition
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-476
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Volume12
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Keywords

  • terrestrial ecosystems
  • species richness
  • chalk-grassland
  • consequences
  • ecoregions
  • pollutants
  • population
  • vegetation
  • scenarios
  • ammonia

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    Phoenix, G. K., Hicks, W. K., Cinderby, S., Kuylenstierna, J. C. I., Stock, W. D., Dentener, F. J., ... Ineson, P. (2006). Atmospheric nitrogen deposition in world biodiversity hotspots: the need for a greater global perspective in assessing N deposition impacts. Global Change Biology, 12(3), 470-476. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01104.x