Urban Ecosystems

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 119–137 | Cite as

Case study for evaluating campus sustainability: nitrogen balance for the University of Minnesota



American ecologists recently began to address the ecology of cities. Concurrently, higher education institutions have developed sustainability education programs and instituted sustainability policies and projects. This paper draws together these two disparate areas by examining the nitrogen (N) budget of the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota. We addressed the question: what were the annual inputs, outputs and internal cycles of N on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus? We found that 508 Mg N yr-1 were brought into the campus and 494 Mg N yr-1 were emitted from the University of Minnesota campus. The largest N inputs were abiotic fixation (conversion of N2 to NOx by combustion) and food for humans and animals. The largest N output was NOx, followed by wastewater. Our results expand the understanding of the ecology of institutions within an urban area and provide an opportunity for improving urban ecology education and environmental policy at educational institutions.


Urban ecology Campus ecology Nitrogen budget Campus sustainability 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation BiologyUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Water Resources CenterUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Science Education Resource CenterCarleton CollegeNorthfieldUSA

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