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Decline in stream health linked to excess nutrients

Published On: 3/10/2015

Nutrient addition increases rate of detrital decomposition in streams

In experimental studies at Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory, the rate of terrestrial carbon loss was doubled by the addition of nutrients. In a set of experiments that were conducted over multiple years, nitrogen and phosphorus were added to streams to assess the effect on terrestrial carbon loss rates; concentrations of nutrients reflected concentrations observed under different land uses. The results indicate that terrestrial carbon loss is affected by both nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations. Carbon can be lost by downstream transport or as CO2, depending on the relative importance of microorganisms or animal feeding. Amy Rosemond, the lead author, said that, “Our results provide a more complete picture of nutrient effects in streams, suggesting that increased efforts at addressing their impacts can now improve stream health in more than one way."

Read the original paper in Science:

Rosemond, Amy D., Jonathan P. Benstead, Phillip M. Bumpers, Vladislav Gulis, John S. Kominoski, David W. P. Manning, Keller Suberkropp, and J. Bruce Wallace. 2015. “Experimental Nutrient Additions Accelerate Terrestrial Carbon Loss from Stream Ecosystems.” Science 347 (6226): 1142–45. doi:10.1126/science.aaa1958.

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