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PLOS ONE  2014 

Total Nitrogen Concentrations in Surface Water of Typical Agro- and Forest Ecosystems in China, 2004-2009

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092850

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We assessed the total nitrogen (N) concentrations of 28 still surface water (lake and pond), and 42 flowing surface water (river), monitoring sites under 29 typical terrestrial ecosystems of the Chinese Ecosystem Research Network (CERN) using monitoring data collected between 2004 and 2009. The results showed that the median total N concentrations of still surface water were significantly higher in the agro- (1.5 mg·L?1) and oasis agro- ecosystems (1.8 mg·L?1) than in the forest ecosystems (1.0 mg·L?1). This was also the case for flowing surface water, with total N concentrations of 2.4 mg·L?1, 1.8 mg·L?1 and 0.5 mg·L?1 for the agro-, oasis agro- and forest ecosystems, respectively. In addition, more than 50% of the samples in agro- and oasis agro- ecosystems were seriously polluted (>1.0 mg·L?1) by N. Spatial analysis showed that the total N concentrations in northern and northwestern regions were higher than those in the southern region for both still and flowing surface waters under agro- and oasis agro- ecosystems, with more than 50% of samples exceeding 1.0 mg·L?1 (the Class III limit of the Chinese National Quality Standards for Surface Waters) in surface water in the northern region. Nitrogen pollution in agro- ecosystems is mainly due to fertilizer applications, while the combination of fertilizer and irrigation exacerbates nitrogen pollution in oasis agro- ecosystems.


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