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Science. 2008 May 30;320(5880):1181. doi: 10.1126/science.1154836.

Ecosystem feedbacks and nitrogen fixation in boreal forests.

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  • 1Ecology and Economics Research Department, The Wilderness Society, 503 West Mendenhall, Bozeman, MT 59715, USA. tom_deluca@tws.org


Biological feedback mechanisms regulate fundamental ecosystem processes and potentially regulate ecosystem productivity. To date, no studies have documented the down-regulation of terrestrial nitrogen (N) fixation via an ecosystem-level feedback mechanism. Herein, we demonstrate such a feedback in boreal forests. Rapid cycling of N in early secondary succession forests yielded greater throughfall N deposition, which in turn decreased N fixation by cyanobacterial associates in feather moss carpets that reside on the forest floor. The forest canopy exerts a tight control on biotic N input at a period of high productivity.

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