Landscape-level nitrogen import and export in an ecosystem with complex terrain, Colorado Front Range

August 2, 2011 – 5:19 pm

Another paper from my dissertation just came out in Biogeochemistry. This was a fun collaborative project that I worked on with a couple members of my committee and a group in France that did some great isotopic work on our stream samples from Niwot Ridge.


I used some of the spatial data from my study site to estimate the relative contributions of two major inputs: winter atmospheric deposition of N on snow and N fixation. You can see that there is a somewhat complementary relationship in which there is a greater abundance of N-fixing plants in areas with less snow and substantial snow inputs in areas with low N fixer abundance.

In addition, the isotopic data showed that:

During the initial phases of snowmelt, mixing model end members for oxygen isotopes in nitrate (NO3-) indicated that a substantial quantity of NO3- is transported downhill into the forested subalpine without being assimilated by soil microbes.

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