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news- focus on nitrogen

A number of CBA members, Maria Amélia Martins Loução, Cristina Branquinho, Cristina Cruz, Cristina Máguas, Pedro Pinho, Silvana Munzi and Teresa Dias have been participating in several International projects concerning the impact of nitrogen on global changes: NiNe, NitroEurope, Cost Action 729 and the INI (International Nitrogen Initiative), which resulted in the joint publication of several books, reports and papers.

This initiative highlighted the leading role of Europe on assessing the effects, control and mitigation of nitrogen impacts on our environment, health and economy. The Portuguese team contributed with several assessments that measured the impact of increasing nitrogen on ecosystems, including the revision of the critical levels of atmospheric ammonia for Mediterranean ecosystems in European legislation. For science promotion we have contributed for the development of the Nitrogen Footprint.


A first book compiles the state-of-the-art of scientific understanding on emissions, transport and deposition and effects of atmospheric ammonia. Atmospheric ammonia is increasingly being recognized as a pollutant of key environmental and health concern, and its emissions are increasing rapidly in many parts of the world, so that these environmental concerns are expected to grow in future. In this book our group contributed in the calculation of the critical levels of atmospheric ammonia, mainly focusing on cork-oak woodlands (chapters 9 and 22).

Atmospheric ammonia: Detecting emission changes and environmental impacts

Another book reviews the evidence from across Europe that confirms nitrogen deposition as a major threat to European biodiversity, especially on the Natura 2000. In this book our group provided an overview of nitrogen deposition on Natura2000 areas in Portugal (chapter 7.6) suggested ways to select critical areas for monitoring the impact of ammonia on biodiversity (chapter 5.8) and determined the effects of increased N availability on biodiversity of
Mediterranean ecosystems maquis.

Nitrogen Deposition and Natura 2000: Science & practice in determining environmental impacts

Responding to the need of having a critical value for protecting ecosystems this report describes the scientific background and results from the review and revision of empirical critical loads of Nitrogen. In this work our group provides the experiments and values that allowed assessing the critical loads of nitrogen for two key Mediterranean ecosystems: evergreen woodlands and maquis.

Review and revision of empirical critical loads and dose-response relationships

The COST Action 729 report provides a concise overview of the COST Action, its major findings and the scientific and policy processes, including the reports of the national contributions.

Assessing and Managing Nitrogen Fluxes in the Atmosphere-Biosphere System in Europe

The European Nitrogen Assessment, the ENA, represents a process of scientific and policy synthesis that provides a major review of the role of excess nitrogen on environmental problems. Based on analysis of the problems and interactions, the review explores the potential to establish integrated solutions and better communicate the implications to society. The ENA provides valuable insight for governments and other stakeholders in the balance between the benefits of fixed nitrogen to society, against the different adverse effects of excess nitrogen in the environment.

European Nitrogen Assessment

The “Nitrogen Deposition, Critical Loads and Biodiversity” brings together extended reviews and papers of new scientific research on atmospheric nitrogen deposition impacts globally. This overall synthesis is targeted at the international conventions, but is equally readable for scientists, environmental managers, conservation agencies and policy makers. This book highlights the importance of ongoing work, including under the Convention on Biological Diversity, in developing indicators and monitoring nitrogen deposition effects to enable appropriate measures.

Nitrogen Deposition, Critical Loads and Biodiversity

and check here the papers and book chapters of CBA members on this subject:

Lichens as ecological indicators in urban areas: beyond the effects of pollutants +info

Calibrating total nitrogen concentration in lichens with reduced nitrogen emissions at regional scale +info

The impact of the rural land-use on the ecological integrity of the intermittent streams of the Mediterranean 2000 Natura network +info

Progress in Nitrogen Deposition Monitoring and Modelling +info

Tools for determining critical levels of atmospheric ammonia under the influence of multiple disturbances +info

Can ammonia tolerance amongst lichen functional groups be explained by physiological responses? +info

Nitrogen tolerance in the lichen Xanthoria parietina: the sensitive side of a resistant species +info

Physiological response of the epiphytic lichen Evernia prunastri (L.) Ach. to ecologically relevant nitrogen concentrations +info

Lichen functional groups as ecological indicators of the effects of land-use in Mediterranean ecosystems +info

Critical loads of nitrogen deposition and critical levels of atmospheric ammonia for Mediterranean evergreen woodlands +info

Impact of an exotic N2-fixing Acacia on composition and N status of a native Mediterranean community +info

Effect of nitrogen supply on the C:N balance in the lichen Evernia prunastri (L.) Ach +info

Nitrogen deposition effects on Mediterranean-type ecosystems: An ecological assessment +info

Using lichen functional-diversity to assess the effects of atmospheric ammonia in Mediterranean woodlands +info

Policies for plant diversity conservation on a global scale: a Nitrogen driver analysis +info

Assessment of Critical Levels of Atmospheric Ammonia for Lichen Diversity in Cork-Oak Woodland, Portugal + info

Linking N-driven biodiversity changes with soil N availability in a Mediterranean ecosystem +info

Nitrogen deposition effects on Mediterranean-type ecosystems: an ecological assessment +info

Do lichens have “memory” of their native N environment? +info

Intracellular and extracellular ammonium (NH4+) uptake and its toxic effects on the aquatic biomonitor Fontinalis antipyretica +info

Causes of change in nitrophytic and oligotrophic lichen species in a Mediterranean climate: Impact of land cover and atmospheric pollutants +info

Heterogeneity of soil surface ammonium concentrations and other characteristics, related to plant specific variability in a Mediterranean-type ecosystem +info

Selecting critical areas for monitoring the impact of ammonia on biodiversity +info

Nitrogen deposition and Natura 2000 sites in Portugal +info

The Environmental Stress & Functional Ecology is a research group within cE3c, Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes