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Nitrogen mysteries in urban grasslands
Date:10/13/2009

MADISON, WI, OCTOBER 12, 2009 Areas of turf-forming species created and maintained by humans for aesthetic and recreational (not grazing) purposes, i.e. "urban grasslands" are an extremely common, but poorly studied ecosystem type. There are over 150,000 km2of urban grasslands in the U.S. and many receive high rates of fertilizer, creating concerns about nutrient runoff to streams, lakes, and estuaries and emissions of greenhouse gases such as nitrous oxide (N2O) to the atmosphere. Most turfgrass research has been done on highly controlled research plots which can be very different than actual urban grasslands which have highly variable management regimes and physical, biological, and chemical conditions.

In the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (BES, http://beslter.org), one of two urban components of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network, scientists from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (Peter Groffman), the U.S. Forest Service (Richard Pouyat, Ian Yesilonis) and the University of North Carolina (Lawrence Band) established a series of long-term study plots to evaluate multiple ecological variables in different components of the urban landscape. An NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates student (Candiss Williams) used these plots for a summer research project. Forest plots were established in urban and rural parks for comparison with grass plots that vary in management intensity, ranging from unfertilized and infrequently mowed to high levels of fertilizer and herbicide input and frequent mowing. Plots were instrumented with lysimeters to measure nutrient leaching losses, soil chamber bases for measuring soil/atmosphere fluxes of N2O, and sensors for soil temperature and moisture. Results on nitrate (NO3-) leaching and N2O fluxes over a period of significant climatic variability (2001�) were presented in a paper in the SeptemberOctober 2009 issue of Journal of Environmental Quality
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Contact: Sara Uttech
suttech@agronomy.org
608-268-4948
American Society of Agronomy
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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