Herbaria century record of increasing eutrophication in Spanish terrestrial ecosystems

Josep Peñuelas, Iolanda Filella

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    65 Citations (Scopus)


    Additional biological evidence is presented for the alteration of biogeochemical cycles by human activities. The leaf δ15N and the concentrations of nutrients in herbarium specimens of 24 species of vascular plants and 3 species of bryophytes collected in northern and eastern regions of Spain have substantially changed throughout the XX century. In the second half of the century, when anthropogenic nitrogen fixation and mobilization started to increase rapidly, leaf δ15N values started to decrease strongly, indicating that additional anthropogenic nitrogen is being retained in Spanish terrestrial ecosystems. The concentration of nutrients in vascular plants did not present any clear pattern, but there were increasing concentrations of N and other nutrients (P, K, and S) in the last decades in bryophytes, which are usually better biomonitors of airborne chemicals than vascular plants. Important consequences for ecosystem structure and functioning such as enhancement of the carbon sink or changes in community biodiversity and species distribution may be expected from this increase in eutrophication.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)427-433
    JournalGlobal Change Biology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2001


    • Bryophytes
    • Nitrogen
    • Nutrients
    • Vascular plants
    • δ N 15


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