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Consequence of altered nitrogen cycles in the coupled human and ecological system under changing climate: The need for long-term and site-based research


Anthropogenically derived nitrogen (N) has a central role in global environmental changes, including climate change, biodiversity loss, air pollution, greenhouse gas emission, water pollution, as well as food production and human health. Current understanding of the biogeochemical processes that govern the N cycle in coupled human–ecological systems around the globe is drawn largely from the long-term ecological monitoring and experimental studies. Here, we review spatial and temporal patterns and trends in reactive N emissions, and the interactions between N and other important elements that dictate their delivery from terrestrial to aquatic ecosystems, and the impacts of N on biodiversity and human society. Integrated international and long-term collaborative studies covering research gaps will reduce uncertainties and promote further understanding of the nitrogen cycle in various ecosystems.

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We thank the ILTER network for giving us this opportunity to develop the ILTER-N initiative, and for funding support to organize the workshop to develop the manuscript. We also thank all of the participants in the workshop for valuable discussions and helpful comments for this paper. This paper contributes to the synthesis of the Global Land Project (IGBP/IHDP). The synthesis activity was also partly supported by the Environmental research and technology development fund (S-9-3) of the Ministry of the Environment, Japan.

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Correspondence to Hideaki Shibata.

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Shibata, H., Branquinho, C., McDowell, W.H. et al. Consequence of altered nitrogen cycles in the coupled human and ecological system under changing climate: The need for long-term and site-based research. AMBIO 44, 178–193 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-014-0545-4

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  • Atmospheric deposition
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Water quality
  • N2O
  • Nitrogen leaching