Biodiversity of European Grasslands - the Impact of Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition (BEGIN)

Summary

Eutrophication is perhaps the most important threat to European biodiversity. A major source of nutrients to semi-natural ecosystems is atmospheric nitrogen deposition and experiments have suggested that these nutrients may reduce species richness. However, until very recently there was no clear evidence that widespread biodiversity reduction caused by regional air pollution was actually occurring. Stevens et al. (Science, 303, 1876) changed this perception. described as a 'milestone in global change research', the study (i) showed a dramatic decline in species richness of UK acid grasslands in relation to nitrogen (N) deposition, (ii) linked empirical with experimental research to estimate the timescale of the observed change, and (iii) provided a predictive equation to estimate species richness of similar sites based on N deposition. The current proposal brings together an interdisciplinary team of leading ecologists, biogeochemists and atmospheric chemists to develop and extend this approach. They aim to determine whether N-deposition is seriously impacting species richness on a wider scale across European grasslands and a elucidate the mechanism responsible. We plan to use a multinational and multidisciplinary approach to address the ecological processes that drive biodiversity change in the systems. Specifically, we will address five objectives:
A. To define the range of N-deposition over which the relationship described in Steevns et al. (2004) remains linear in European grasslands.
B. To test whether this relationship holds true in a contrasting grassland system.
C. To determine the processes behind biodiversity susceptibility to N deposition by disigning integrated N-addition experiments across the BEGIN network.
D. To assess the predictive ability of the relationships developed, and to determine the time factor of biodiversity loss, by re-sampling former grassland N-addition experiments across Europe and co-ordinating information on present experiments.
E. To incorporate the knowledge gained from the above research into specific recommendations for mitigation of damage to grassland diversity form N deposition.

Output

Scientific article

  • R. Bobbink, Et al.(2010): Ecosystem responses to reduced and oxidised nitrogen inputs in European terrestrial habitats. Environmental Pollution pp. 665 - 676
  • R. Bobbink, Et al.(2010): Nitrogen deposition threatens species richness of grasslands across Europe. Environmental Pollution pp. 2940 - 2945
  • R. Bobbink, Et al.(2010): Changes in species richness and composition in European acidic grasslands over the past 70 years - the effects of accumulated atmospheric nitrogen deposition. Global Change Biology pp. 344 - 357
  • R. Bobbink, et al(2011): New science on the effects of nitrogen deposition and concentrations on Natura 2000 sites WK Hicks pp. 129 - 136
  • R. Bobbink, et al(2011): Impact of nitrogen deposition on species richness of calcareous grasslands in Europe WK Hicks pp. 115 - 162
  • R. Bobbink, et al(2011): The impact of nitrogen deposition on acid grasslands in the Atlantic region of Europe Environmental Pollution pp. 159:2243 - 2250
  • R. Bobbink, et al(2011): Addressing the Impact of Atmospheric Nitrogen Deposition on Western European Grasslands Environmental Management pp. 48:885 - 894
  • R. Bobbink, et al(2011): Changes in species composition of European acid grasslands observed along a gradient of nitrogen deposition Journal of Vegetation Science pp. 22:207 - 215
  • R. Bobbink, et al(2011): New science on the effects of nitrogen deposition and concentrations on Natura 2000 sites WK Hicks pp. 115 - 129
  • R. Bobbink, et al(2011): Ecosystem responses to reduced and oxidised nitrogen inputs in European terrestrial habitats Environmental Pollution pp. 159:665 - 676

Details

Project number

855.01.104

Main applicant

Dr. R. Bobbink

Affiliated with

Onderzoekcentrum B-WARE b.v., Biogeochemical Water Management & Applied Research on Ecosytems

Team members

Dr. E. Dorland, Mw. S.L.F. Rotthier MSc

Duration

01/11/2006 to 31/03/2011