Oecologia

, Volume 181, Issue 1, pp 271–285 | Cite as

Plant nitrogen concentration and isotopic composition in residential lawns across seven US cities

  • T. L. E. Trammell
  • D. E. Pataki
  • J. Cavender-Bares
  • P. M. Groffman
  • S. J. Hall
  • J. B. Heffernan
  • S. E. Hobbie
  • J. L. Morse
  • C. Neill
  • K. C. Nelson
Ecosystem ecology – original research

Abstract

Human drivers are often proposed to be stronger than biophysical drivers in influencing ecosystem structure and function in highly urbanized areas. In residential land cover, private yards are influenced by individual homeowner preferences and actions while also experiencing large-scale human and biophysical drivers. We studied plant nitrogen (%N) and N stable isotopic composition (δ15N) in residential yards and paired native ecosystems in seven cities across the US that span major ecological biomes and climatic regions: Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. We found that residential lawns in three cities had enriched plant δ15N (P < 0.03) and in six cities higher plant N (%) relative to the associated native ecosystems (P < 0.05). Plant δ15N was progressively depleted across a gradient of urban density classes in Baltimore and Boston (P < 0.05). Lawn fertilization was associated with depleted plant δ15N in Boston and Los Angeles (P < 0.05), and organic fertilizer additions were associated with enriched plant δ15N in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City (P < 0.04). Plant δ15N was significantly enriched as a function of housing age in Baltimore (r2 = 0.27, P < 0.02), Boston (r2 = 0.27, P < 0.01), and Los Angeles (r2 = 0.34, P < 0.01). These patterns in plant δ15N and plant N (%) across these cities suggests that N sources to lawns, as well as greater rates of N cycling combined with subsequent N losses, may be important drivers of plant N dynamics in lawn ecosystems at the national scale.

Keywords

Urban ecology Natural abundance nitrogen stable isotopes Ecological convergence Nitrogen cycling 

References

  1. Alberti M (2008) Advances in urban ecology: integrating humans and ecological processes in urban ecosystems. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ammann M, Siegwolf R, Pichlmayer F, Suter M, Saurer M, Brunold C (1999) Estimating the uptake of traffic-derived NO2 from 15N abundance in Norway spruce needles. Oecologia 118(2):124–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bettez ND, Groffman PM (2013) Nitrogen deposition in and near an urban ecosystem. Environ Sci Tech 47:6047–6051CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bijoor NS, Czimczik CI, Pataki DE, Billings SA (2008) Effects of temperature and fertilization on nitrogen cycling and community composition of an urban lawn. Global Change Bio 14:2119–2131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bissonette JA (1999) Small sample size problems in wildlife ecology: a contingent analytical approach. Wildl Biol 5:65–71Google Scholar
  6. Boström B, Comstedt D, Ekbald A (2007) Isotope fractionation and 13C enrichment in soil profiles during the decomposition of soil organic matter. Oecologia 153(1):89–98CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Carreiro MM, Tripler CE (2005) Forest remnants along urban-rural gradients: examining their potential for global change research. Ecosystems 8:568–582CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Claritas (2008) PRIZM segment narratives. Nielsen (US) www.claritas.com/MyBestSegments/Default.jsp. Accessed 15 Nov 2014
  9. Craine JM, Elmore AJ, Aidar MPM, Bustamante M, Dawson TE, Hobbie EA, Kahmen A et al (2009) Global patterns of foliar nitrogen isotopes and their relationships with climate, mycorrhizal fungi, foliar nutrient concentrations, and nitrogen availability. New Phytol 183:980–992CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Dawson TE, Mambelli S, Plamboeck AH, Templer PH, Tu KP (2002) Stable isotopes in plant ecology. Annu Rev Ecol Syst 33:507–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Evans RD (2001) Physiological mechanisms influencing plant nitrogen isotope composition. Trends Plant Sci 6(3):121–126CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Evans RD, Ehleringer JR (1993) A break in the nitrogen cycle in aridlands? Evidence from δ15N of soils. Oecologia 94(3):314–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Felix JD, Elliott EM (2014) Isotopic composition of passively collected nitrogen dioxide emisions: vehicle, soil and livestock source signatures. Atmos Environ 92:359–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fraser JC, Bazuin JT, Band LE, Grove JM (2013) Covenants, cohesion, and community: the effects of neighborhood governance on lawn fertilization. Landsc Urban Plan 115:30–38CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gold AJ, Deragon WR, Sullivan WM, Lemunyon JL (1990) Nitrate-nitrogen losses to groundwater from rural and suburban land uses. J Soil Water Conserv 45:305–310Google Scholar
  16. Golubiewski NE (2006) Urbanization increases grassland carbon pools: effects of landscaping in Colorado’s front range. Ecol Appl 16(2):555–571CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Gough CM, Elliott HL (2012) Lawn soil carbon storage in abandoned residential properties: an examination of ecosystem structure and function following partial human-natural decoupling. J Environ Managee 98:155–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grimm NB, Faeth SH, Golubiewski NE, Redman CL, Wu J, Bai X, Briggs JM (2008) Global change and the ecology of cities. Science 319(5864):756–760CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Groffman PM, Law NL, Belt KT, Band LE, Fisher GT (2004) Nitrogen fluxes and retention in urban watershed ecosystems. Ecosystems 7:393–403Google Scholar
  20. Groffman PM, Cavender-Bares J, Bettez ND, Grove JM, Hall SJ, Heffernan JB, Hobbie SE, Larson KL, Morse JL, Neill C, Nelson K, O’Neil-Dunne J, Ogden L, Pataki DE, Polsky C, Roy Chowdhury R, Steele MK (2014) Ecological homogenization of urban USA. Front Ecol Environ 12(1):74–81CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Harrell FE, Dupont C et al (2014) Misc: Harrell miscellaneous. R package version 3.14-5. http://CRAN.R-project.org/package=Hmisc. Accessed 6 Nov 2014
  22. Hobbie EA, Högberg P (2012) Tansley Review. Nitrogen isotopes link mycorrhizal fungi and plants to nitrogen dynamics. New Phytol 196:367–382CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Högberg P (1997) Tansley review no. 95: 15N natural abundance in soil-plant systems. New Phytol 137:179–203CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Högberg P, Johannisson C, Yarwood S, Callesen I, Näsholm T, Myrold DD, Högberg MN (2011) Recovery of ecotmycorrhiza after ‘nitrogen saturation’ of a conifer forest. New Phytol 189:515–525CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Högberg P, Johannisson C, Högberg MN (2013) Is the high 15N natural abundance of trees in N-loaded forests caused by an internal ecosystem N isotope redistribution or a change in the ecosystem N isotope mass balance? Biogeochem. doi:10.1007/s10533-013-9873-x Google Scholar
  26. Hope D, Zhu W, Gries C, Oleson J, Kaye J, Grimm NB, Baker LA (2005) Spatial variation in soil inorganic nitrogen across an arid urban ecosystem. Urban Ecosyst 8:251–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Huyler A, Chappelka AH, Prior SA, Somers GL (2014) Drivers of soil carbon in residential ‘pure lawns’ in Auburn, Alabama. Urban Ecosyst 17:205–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jenerete GD, Wu J, Grimm NB, Hope D (2006) Points, patches, and regions: scaling soil biogeochemical patterns in an urbanized arid ecosystem. Global Change Biol 12:1532–1544CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kaye JP, Groffman PM, Grimm NB, Baker LA, Pouyat RV (2006) A distinct urban biogeochemistry? Trends Ecol Evol 21(4):192–199CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Kendall C, Elliott EM, Wankel SD (2007) Tracing anthropogenic inputs of nitrogen to ecosystems. In: Lajtha K, Michener RH (eds) Stable isotopes in ecology and environmental science, 2nd edn. Blackwell, Malden, pp 375–449CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Law NL, Band LE, Grove JM (2004) Nitrogen input from residential lawn care practices in suburban watersheds in Baltimore County, MD. J Environ Plan Manage 47(5):737–755CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Lovett GM, Traynor MM, Pouyat RV, Carreiro MM, Zhu W-X, Baxter JW (2000) Atmospheric deposition to oak forests along an urban-rural gradient. Environ Sci Technol 34:4294–4300CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Mann HB, Whitney DR (1947) On a test of whether one of two random variables is stochastically larger than the other. Ann Math Stats 18:50–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Martini NF, Nelson KC, Hobbie SE, Baker LA (2015) Why “Feed the lawn”? Exploring the influences on residential turf grass fertilization in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metropolitan area. Environ Behavior 47(2):158–183CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. McDonnell MJ (2011) The history of urban ecology: an ecologist’s perspective. In: Niemelä J, Breuste J, Guntenspergen G, McIntyre NE, Elmqvist T, James P (eds) Urban ecology. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 5–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. McDonnell MJ, Picket STA (1990) Ecosystem structure and function along urban-rural gradients: an unexploited opportunity for ecology. Ecology 71(4):1232–1237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Milesi C, Running SW, Elvidge CD, Dietz JB, Tuttle BT, Nemani RR (2005) Mapping and modeling the biogeochemical cycling of turf grasses in the United States. Environ Manage 36(3):426–438CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Nadelhoffer KJ, Fry B (1988) Controls on natural nitrogen-15 and carbon-13 abundances in forest soil organic matter. Soil Sci Soc Am J 52:1633–1640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) (2014) National oceanic and atmospheric administration (NOAA) satellite and information service. 1981–2010 Climate normals. http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/. Accessed 27 Feb 2015
  40. Osmond DL, Hardy DH (2004) Characterization of turf practices in five North Carolina communities. J Environ Qual 33(2):565–575CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Pardo LH, Templer PH, Goodale CL, Duke S, Groffman PM, Adams MB, Boeckx P, Boggs J et al (2006) Regional assessment of N saturation using foliar and root δ15N. Biogeochemistry 80:143–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pardo LH, McNulty SG, Boggs JL, Duke S (2007) Regional patterns in foliar 15N across a gradient of nitrogen deposition in the northeastern US. Environ Pollut 149:293–302CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Pearson J, Wells DM, Seller KJ, Bennett A, Soares A, Woodall J, Ingrouille MJ (2000) Traffic exposure increases natural 15N and heavy metal concentrations in mosses. New Phytol 147:317–326CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Petrovic AM (1990) The fate of nitrogenous fertilizers applied to turfgrass. J Environ Qual 19:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Pickett STA, Cadenasso ML, Grove JM, Boone CG, Groffman PM, Irwin E, Kaushal SS, Marshall McGrath BP, Nilon CH, Pouyat RV, Szlavecz K, Troy A, Warren P (2011) Urban ecological systems: scientific foundations and a decade of progress. J Environ Manage 92:331–362CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Pohlert T (2014) The pairwise multiple comparison of mean ranks package (PMCMR). R package. http://ftp.ussg.iu.edu/CRAN/. Accessed 28 Oct 2014
  47. Pouyat RV, Groffman PM, Yesilonis I, Hernandez L (2003) Soil carbon pools and fluxes in urban ecosystems. In: Kimble JM, Heath LS, Birdsey RA, Lal R (eds) The potential of US forest soils to sequester carbon and mitigate the greenhouse effect. CRC, Boca Raton, pp 347–362Google Scholar
  48. Pouyat RV, Yesilonis ID, Golubiewski NE (2009) A comparison of soil organic carbon stocks between residential turf grass and native soil. Urban Ecosyst 12:45–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Qian YL, Bandaranayake W, Parton WJ, Mecham B, Harivandi MA, Mosier AR (2003) Long-term effects of clipping and nitrogen management in turfgrass on soil organic carbon and nitrogen dynamics: the CENTURY model simulation. J Environ Qual 32:1694–1700CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. R Core Team (2013) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna. http://www.R-project.org/. Accessed 20 Oct 2014
  51. Raciti SM, Groffman PM, Fahey TJ (2008) Nitrogen retention in urban lawns and forests. Ecol Appl 18(7):1615–1626CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Raciti SM, Groffman PM, Jenkins JC, Pouyat RV, Fahey TJ, Pickett STA, Cadenasso ML (2011) Accumulation of carbon and nitrogen in residential soils with different land-use histories. Ecosystems 14:287–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Rao P, Hutyra L, Raciti S, Templer P (2014) Atmospheric nitrogen inputs and losses along an urbanization gradient from Boston to Harvard Forest, MA. Biogeochem 121:299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Redling K, Elliott E, Bain D, Sherwell J (2013) Highway contributions to reactive nitrogen deposition: tracing the fate of vehicular NOx using stable isotopes and plant biomonitors. Biogeochem 116:261–274CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Robbins P, Birkenholtz T (2003) Turfgrass revolution: measuring the expansion of the American lawn. Land Use Policy 20:181–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Robbins P, Polderman A, Birkenholtz T (2001) Lawns and toxins: an ecology of the city. Cities 18(6):369–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Robinson D (2001) δ15N as an integrator of the nitrogen cycle. Trends Ecol Evol 16(3):153–162CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  58. Saurer M, Cherubini P, Ammann M, De Cinti B, Siegwolf R (2004) First detection of nitrogen from NOx in tree rings: a 15N/14N study near a motorway. Atmos Environ 38:2779–2787CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Stiegler CJ, Richardson MD, Karcher DE, Roberts TL, Norman RJ (2013) Foliar absorption of various inorganic and organic nitrogen sources by creeping bentgrass. Crop Sci 53(3):1148–1152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Suding KN, Collins SL, Gough L, Clark C, Cleland EE, Gross KL, Milchunas DG, Pennings S (2005) Functional- and abundance-based mechanisms explain diversity loss due to N fertilization. PNAS 102(12):4387–4392CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  61. Townsend-Small A, Czimczik CI (2010) Carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions in urban turf. Geophys Res Lett 37:L06707. doi:10.1029/2010GL042735 Google Scholar
  62. US Census Bureau (2010) Annual estimates of the resident population: April 1, 2010 to July, 2013. Source: US Census Bureau, Population Division. Release date: March 2014. http://www.census.gov/population/metro/data/index.html. Accessed 24 Oct 2014
  63. US Geological Survey (USGS) (2008) USGS global ecosystems data viewer. http://rmgsc.cr.usgs.gov/ecosystems/dataviewer.shtml. Accessed 24 Oct 2014

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. L. E. Trammell
    • 1
  • D. E. Pataki
    • 2
  • J. Cavender-Bares
    • 3
  • P. M. Groffman
    • 4
  • S. J. Hall
    • 5
  • J. B. Heffernan
    • 6
  • S. E. Hobbie
    • 3
  • J. L. Morse
    • 4
    • 7
  • C. Neill
    • 8
  • K. C. Nelson
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Plant and Soil SciencesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Evolution, and BehaviorUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  4. 4.Cary Institute of Ecosystem StudiesMillbrookUSA
  5. 5.School of Life SciencesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  6. 6.Nicholas School of the EnvironmentDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  7. 7.Environmental Science and ManagementPortland State UniversityPortlandUSA
  8. 8.The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological LaboratoryWoods HoleUSA
  9. 9.Department of Forest Resources and Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

Personalised recommendations