Shifts in lake N

P stoichiometry and nutrient limitation driven by atmospheric nitrogen deposition

James J. Elser, Tom Andersen, Jill S. Baron, Ann Kristin Bergström, Mats Jansson, Mareia Kyle, Koren R. Nydick, Laura Steger, Dag O. Hessen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    478 Citations (Scopus)


    Human activities have more than doubled the amount of nitrogen (N) circulating in the biosphere. One major pathway of this anthropogenic N input into ecosystems has been increased regional deposition from the atmosphere. Here we show that atmospheric N deposition increased the stoichiometric ratio of N and phosphorus (P) in lakes in Norway, Sweden, and Colorado, United States, and, as a result, patterns of ecological nutrient limitation were shifted. Under low N deposition, phytoplankton growth is generally N-limited; however, in high-N deposition lakes, phytoplankton growth is consistently P-limited. Continued anthropogenic amplification of the global N cycle will further alter ecological processes, such as biogeochemical cycling, trophic dynamics, and biological diversity, in the world's lakes, even in lakes far from direct human disturbance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)835-837
    Number of pages3
    Issue number5954
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2009

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Shifts in lake N: P stoichiometry and nutrient limitation driven by atmospheric nitrogen deposition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this