Changes in vegetation and soil characteristics in coastal sand dunes along a gradient of atmospheric nitrogen deposition

Jones, M.L.M.; Wallace, H.L.; Norris, D.; Brittain, S.A.; Haria, S.; Jones, R.E.; Rhind, P.M.; Reynolds, B.R.; Emmett, B.A.. 2004 Changes in vegetation and soil characteristics in coastal sand dunes along a gradient of atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Plant Biology, 6 (5). 598-605.

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A field survey was conducted to detect signals of atmospheric nitrogen (N) in 11 dune systems along a nitrogen deposition gradient in the United Kingdom. In the mobile and semi-fixed dunes, above-ground biomass was positively related to N inputs. This increase was largely due to increased height and cover of Ammophila arenaria. In the long term, this increased biomass may lead to increased organic matter accumulation and consequently accelerated soil development. In the fixed dunes, above ground biomass also showed a positive relationship with N inputs as did soil C : N ratio while soil available N was negatively related to N inputs. Plant species richness was negatively related to N inputs. In the dune slacks, while soil and bulk vegetation parameters showed no relationship with N inputs, cover of Carex arenaria and Hypochaeris radicata increased. Site mean Ellenberg N numbers showed no relationship with N deposition either within habitats or across the whole dataset. Neither abundance-weighting nor inclusion of the Siebel numbers for bryophytes improved the relationship. The survey reveals that the relationships of soil and vegetation with atmospheric N deposition vary between sand dune habitats but, despite this variability, clear correlations with N inputs exist. While this survey cannot establish causality, on the basis of the relationships observed we suggest a critical load range of 10 - 20 kg N ha(-1) yr(-1) for coastal sand dunes in the UK.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Emmett
ISSN: 1435-8603
Additional Keywords: critical loads, global change, Ellenberg indicator values, eutrophication, C:N ratios
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 18 May 2017 11:15 +0 (UTC)

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