Nitrogen Deposition Effects on Mediterranean-type Ecosystems: An Ecological Assessment
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Ecosystem Management
We review the ecological consequences of N deposition on the five Mediterranean regions of the world. Seasonality of precipitation and fires regulate the N cycle in these water-limited ecosystems, where dry N deposition dominates. Nitrogen accumulation in soils and on plant surfaces results in peaks of availability with the first winter rains. Decoupling between N flushes and plant demand promotes losses via leaching and gas emissions. Differences in P availability may control the response to N inputs and susceptibility to exotic plant invasion. Invasive grasses accumulate as fuel during the dry season, altering fire regimes. California and the Mediterranean Basin are the most threatened by N deposition; however, there is limited evidence for N deposition impacts outside of California. Consequently, more research is needed to determine critical loads for each region and vegetation type based on the most sensitive elements, such as changes in lichen species composition and N cycling.