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Studies of Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition in a Mire of the German National Park Hochharz Mountains Using Two Different Methods

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the nitrogen (N) deposition in a mire of the German National Park Hochharz Mountains in regard to different input pathways of open area and forest stand deposition. High N deposition rates strongly affect the development and growth of mires in general. For determination of the open area N deposition two methods were applied: the bulk deposition method and the Integral Total Nitrogen Input (ITNI) method. This method is based on the 15N isotope dilution technique and was adapted at this study to evaluate its applicability for natural ecosystems as well as to compare with the traditional bulk method. The forest stand deposition included canopy throughfall, stemflow and fog was measured by means of bulk collectors. On the test site, bulk deposition measurements showed an input of 27 kg N ha− 1 yr− 1 in the open area and 47 kg N ha− 1 yr− 1 in the forest stand. The higher N input in the forest stand is caused by interception of fog by the canopy. N concentrations in fog were up to more than six times higher than in rain. The ITNI system yielded a total N deposition of 30 kg N ha− 1 yr− 1 on average in the open area. The small differences between the two simultaneously applied measuring techniques were caused by a minimum biomass development of the autochthonous plant Calamagrostis villosa in the ITNI system. With increasing biomass production the influence of plants on the atmospheric N input also increased. It can be concluded that the ITNI system is beneficial for the application in a natural ecosystem when using more robust and biomass producing plants. The measured atmospheric N deposition exceeds the critical load for nutrient poor mires and represents therefore a potential risk for the continuity of this ecosystem.

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Correspondence to R. Meissner.

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Böhlmann, N., Meissner, R., Bernsdorf, S. et al. Studies of Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition in a Mire of the German National Park Hochharz Mountains Using Two Different Methods. Water Air Soil Pollut 168, 17–32 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-005-0587-0

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Keywords

  • canopy throughfall
  • mire
  • nitrogen deposition
  • stemflow