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Isotopic evidence that nitrogen enrichment intensifies nitrogen losses to the atmosphere from subtropical mangroves

January 8, 2018

Nitrogen (N) enrichment can have large effects on mangroves’ capacity to provide critical ecosystem services by affecting fundamental functions such as N cycling and primary productivity. However, our understanding of excess N input effects on N cycling in mangroves remains quite limited. To advance our understanding of how N enrichment via water or air pollution affects mangroves, we evaluated whether increasing N inputs would decrease biological N fixation (BNF), but intensify N dynamics and N losses to the atmosphere in these systems. We measured N concentrations in sediment and vegetation, rates of BNF in sediment and litter, and net sediment ammonification and nitrification rates. We also evaluated long-term integrated N dynamics and N losses to the atmosphere using the natural abundance of N stable isotopes (δ15N) in the sediment–plant system and in estuarine water. We performed these analyses at non-N-enriched and N-enriched (that is, polluted) fringe and basin mangroves in southeastern Brazil. The δ15N in the sediment–plant system was higher at N-enriched than non-N-enriched fringe sites, indicating increased N losses to the atmosphere from N-enriched sites. However, N concentrations in sediment and vegetation were similar or lower at N-enriched relative to non-N-enriched sites. BNF and net ammonification and nitrification rates were also similar between N-enriched and non-N-enriched sites. Excess N inputs intensified N losses to the atmosphere from mangroves, but N pools, BNF, and net ammonification and nitrification rates were not affected by N enrichment, likely because excess N was quickly lost from the system by direct denitrification and volatilization.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Isotopic evidence that nitrogen enrichment intensifies nitrogen losses to the atmosphere from subtropical mangroves
DOI 10.1007/s10021-018-0327-0
Authors Carla Roberta Gonçalves Reis, Sasha C. Reed, Rafael Silva Oliveira, Gabriela Bielefeld Nardoto
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecosystems
Series Number
Index ID 70202922
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southwest Biological Science Center