Atmospheric phosphorus deposition may cause lakes to revert from phosphorus limitation back to nitrogen limitation

Camarero L., Catalan J. (2012) Atmospheric phosphorus deposition may cause lakes to revert from phosphorus limitation back to nitrogen limitation. Nature Communications. 3: 0-0.
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Doi: 10.1038/ncomms2125

Resum:

Recent findings indicate that increased atmospheric deposition of nitrogen of human origin has caused changes in the pattern of ecological nutrient limitation in lakes in the northern hemisphere. An increase in the nitrogen to phosphorus ratio, and hence a shift from pristine nitrogen limitation to human-induced phosphorus limitation of phytoplankton growth, seems to have been driven by deposition of atmospheric nitrogen. These findings challenge the classical paradigm of lake phytoplankton productivity being naturally limited by phosphorus availability. However, atmospheric phosphorus deposition may also be highly relevant. Here we show how dissolved inorganic nitrogen concentration has decreased in the Pyrenean lake district over recent decades, despite there being an increase in deposition of atmospheric nitrogen. This is related to an increased atmospheric phosphorus load in the lake water, as a result of higher atmospheric inputs. These changes are causing phytoplankton to revert from being phosphorus-limited to being nitrogen-limited. © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

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