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Vegetation community change points suggest that critical loads of nutrient nitrogen may be too high

Wilkins, Kayla ; Aherne, Julian ; Bleasdale, Andy

Wilkins, Kayla; Aherne, Julian; Bleasdale, Andy (2016). Vegetation community change points suggest that critical loads of nutrient nitrogen may be too high. Atmospheric Environment 146 , 324-331 [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    Vegetation community change points suggest that critical loads of nutrient nitrogen may be too high
  • Autor: Wilkins, Kayla ; Aherne, Julian ; Bleasdale, Andy
  • Assuntos: Nitrogen Deposition ; Annex I Habitats ; Species Abundance ; Titan ; Ireland ; Atmospheric Nitrogen ; Deposition Gradient ; Acid Grasslands ; Species Composition ; Buffering Capacity ; Plant-Communities ; Northern Belgium ; Oak Forests ; Impacts ; Biodiversity
  • É parte de: Wilkins, Kayla; Aherne, Julian; Bleasdale, Andy (2016). Vegetation community change points suggest that critical loads of nutrient nitrogen may be too high. Atmospheric Environment 146 , 324-331
  • Descrição: To access, purchase, authenticate, or subscribe to the full-text of this article, please visit this link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.07.016 Byline: Kayla Wilkins [kaylawilkins@trentu.ca] (a,*), Julian Aherne (a), Andy Bleasdale (b) Keywords Nitrogen deposition; Annex I habitats; Species abundance; TITAN; Ireland Highlights * Threshold Analysis was used to assess habitat change along a nitrogen deposition gradient. * Twelve Annex I habitats showed a decrease in species abundance under nitrogen deposition. * Vegetation community change points were lower than recommended critical load ranges. * Synergies between the European Union's Habitat and Emissions Directives should be developed. Abstract It is widely accepted that elevated nitrogen deposition can have detrimental effects on semi-natural ecosystems, including changes to plant diversity. Empirical critical loads of nutrient nitrogen have been recommended to protect many sensitive European habitats from significant harmful effects. In this study, we used Threshold Indicator Taxa Analysis (TITAN) to investigate shifts in vegetation communities along an atmospheric nitrogen deposition gradient for twenty-two semi-natural habitat types (as described under Annex I of the European Union Habitats Directive) in Ireland. Significant changes in vegetation community, i.e., change points, were determined for twelve habitats, with seven habitats showing a decrease in the number of positive indicator species. Community-level change points indicated a decrease in species abundance along a nitrogen deposition gradient ranging from 3.9 to 15.3 kg N ha.sup.-1 yr.sup.-1, which were significantly lower than recommended critical loads (Wilcoxon signed-rank test; V = 6, p < 0.05). These results suggest that lower critical loads of empirical nutrient nitrogen deposition may be required to protect many European habitats. Changes to vegetation communities may mean a loss of sensitive indicator species and potentially rare species in these habitats, highlighting how emission reductions policies set under the National Emissions Ceilings Directive may be directly linked to meeting the goal set out under the European Union's Biodiversity Strategy of "halting the loss of biodiversity" across Europe by 2020. Abbreviations EMEP, European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme; EU, European Union; EUNIS, European Nature Information System; N, nitrogen; NPWS, Irish National Parks and Wildlife Service; TITAN, Threshold Indicator Taxa Analysis; UNECE, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Author Affiliation: (a) School of the Environment, Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, K9J 7B8, Canada (b) National Park and Wildlife Service, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Custom House, Galway, Ireland * Corresponding author. Article History: Received 1 February 2016; Revised 5 July 2016; Accepted 7 July 2016

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