Ambient urban N deposition drives increased biomass and total plant N in two native prairie grass species in the U.S. Southern Great Plains

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This article studies atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition in urban areas on two native prairie grass species, Schizachyrium scoparium and Nasella leucotricha. Findings indicate that while native prairie grasses may exhibit a positive biomass response to increased N deposition up to ~18 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹, total inorganic N deposition is well above the estimated critical load for herbaceous plant species richness in the tallgrass prairie of the Great Plains ecoregion and thus may negatively affect these plant communities.

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19 p.

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Ponette-González, Alexandra G.; Green, Michelle L.; McCullars, Justin & Gough, Laura May 6, 2021.

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This article studies atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition in urban areas on two native prairie grass species, Schizachyrium scoparium and Nasella leucotricha. Findings indicate that while native prairie grasses may exhibit a positive biomass response to increased N deposition up to ~18 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹, total inorganic N deposition is well above the estimated critical load for herbaceous plant species richness in the tallgrass prairie of the Great Plains ecoregion and thus may negatively affect these plant communities.

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19 p.

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Abstract: Remnants of native tallgrass prairie experience elevated atmospheric nitrogen (N) deposition in urban areas, with potential effects on species traits that are important for N cycling and species composition. We quantified bulk (primarily wet) inorganic N (NH₄⁺-N + NO₃⁻-N) deposition at six sites along an urban development gradient (6–64% urban) in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area from April 2014 to October 2015. In addition, we conducted a phytometer experiment with two common native prairie bunchgrass species––one well studied (Schizachyrium scoparium) and one little studied (Nasella leucotricha)––to investigate ambient N deposition effects on plant biomass and tissue quality. Bulk inorganic N deposition ranged from 6.1–9.9 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹, peaked in spring, and did not vary consistently with proportion of urban land within 10 km of the sites. Total (wet + dry) inorganic N deposition estimated using bulk deposition measured in this study and modeled dry deposition was 12.9–18.2 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹. Although the two plant species studied differ in photosynthetic pathway, biomass, and tissue N, they exhibited a maximum 2-3-fold and 2-4-fold increase in total biomass and total plant N, respectively, with 1.6-fold higher bulk N deposition. In addition, our findings indicate that while native prairie grasses may exhibit a positive biomass response to increased N deposition up to ~18 kg ha⁻¹ yr⁻¹, total inorganic N deposition is well above the estimated critical load for herbaceous plant species richness in the tallgrass prairie of the Great Plains ecoregion and thus may negatively affect these plant communities.

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  • PLOS ONE, 16(5), Public Library of Science, May 6 2021, pp. 1-19

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  • Publication Title: PLOS ONE
  • Volume: 16
  • Issue: 5
  • Article Identifier: e0251089
  • Peer Reviewed: Yes

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  • May 6, 2021

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  • Oct. 21, 2021, 11:13 a.m.

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  • Nov. 8, 2021, 9:13 a.m.

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Ponette-González, Alexandra G.; Green, Michelle L.; McCullars, Justin & Gough, Laura. Ambient urban N deposition drives increased biomass and total plant N in two native prairie grass species in the U.S. Southern Great Plains, article, May 6, 2021; (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1852166/: accessed September 22, 2023), University of North Texas Libraries, UNT Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences.

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