Isotopic evidence for oligotrophication of terrestrial ecosystems

Craine, Joseph M.; Elmore, Andrew J.; Wang, Lixin; Aranibar, Julieta; Bauters, Marijn; Boeckx, Pascal; Crowley, Brooke E.; Dawes, Melissa A.; Delzon, Sylvain; Fajardo, Alex; Fang, Yunting; Fujiyoshi, Lei; Gray, Alan ORCID:; Guerrieri, Rossella; Gundale, Michael J.; Hawke, David J.; Hietz, Peter; Jonard, Mathieu; Kearsley, Elizabeth; Kenzo, Tanaka; Makarov, Mikhail; Marañón-Jiménez, Sara; McGlynn, Terrence P.; McNeil, Brenden E.; Mosher, Stella G.; Nelson, David M.; Peri, Pablo L.; Roggy, Jean Christophe; Sanders-DeMott, Rebecca; Song, Minghua; Szpak, Paul; Templer, Pamela H.; Van der Colff, Dewidine; Werner, Christiane; Xu, Xingliang; Yang, Yang; Yu, Guirui; Zmudczyńska-Skarbek, Katarzyna. 2018 Isotopic evidence for oligotrophication of terrestrial ecosystems. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2 (11). 1735-1744.

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Human societies depend on an Earth system that operates within a constrained range of nutrient availability, yet the recent trajectory of terrestrial nitrogen (N) availability is uncertain. Examining patterns of foliar N concentrations and isotope ratios (δ15N) from more than 43,000 samples acquired over 37 years, here we show that foliar N concentration declined by 9% and foliar δ15N declined by 0.6–1.6‰. Examining patterns across different climate spaces, foliar δ15N declined across the entire range of mean annual temperature and mean annual precipitation tested. These results suggest declines in N supply relative to plant demand at the global scale. In all, there are now multiple lines of evidence of declining N availability in many unfertilized terrestrial ecosystems, including declines in δ15N of tree rings and leaves from herbarium samples over the past 75–150 years. These patterns are consistent with the proposed consequences of elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide and longer growing seasons. These declines will limit future terrestrial carbon uptake and increase nutritional stress for herbivores.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 2397-334X
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Publisher link (see Related URLs) provides a read-only copy of the published paper.
Additional Keywords: element cycles
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Related URLs:
Date made live: 19 Nov 2018 15:00 +0 (UTC)

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