Article

Water, Air, and Soil Pollution

, Volume 130, Issue 1, pp 1043-1048

First online:

Comparison of the Effects of Wet N Deposition (NH4Cl) and Dry N Deposition (NH3) on UK Moorland Species

  • Ian D. LeithAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station
  • , Lucy J. SheppardAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station
  • , Carole E.R. PitcairnAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station
  • , J. Neil CapeAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station
  • , Paul W. HillAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station
  • , Valerie H. KennedyAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Merlewood Research Station
  • , Y. Sim TangAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station
  • , Ron I. SmithAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station
  • , David FowlerAffiliated withCentre for Ecology and Hydrology, Edinburgh Research Station

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Abstract

Increases in N deposition (wet and dry) have been associated with a decline in semi-natural plant communities, adapted for growth on nutrient poor soils in the UK and Europe. The impacts of N deposition applied as either wet NH4 + or gaseous NH3 on vegetation (7 species) from acid moorland in SE Scotland were compared in a dose-response study. Wet N deposition at 0, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128 kg N ha−1 y−1 was applied as NH4Cl, and dry deposition as gaseous NH3 (2, 6, 20, 50, 90 µg NH3 m−3) under controlled conditions in open-top chambers. A strong linear dose-response relationship (p<0.05) was found between foliar N content in all seven plant species and applied NH4−N. However, in the NH3 treatment, only C. vulgaris and P. commune showed a significant response to increasing N additions. NH3 was found to increase the rate of water loss in Calluna in both autumn and winter by comparison with wet deposition. For Eriophorum vaginatum, the NH3 and NH4 + treatments showed significant N dose response relationships for biomass. A significant increase in above ground biomass, proportional to the added N, was found for Narthecium ossifragum when N was applied as NH3 compared to NH4 +.

moorland vegetation NH3 NH4 + deposition biomass water loss