Chin J Plant Ecol ›› 2020, Vol. 44 ›› Issue (5): 475-493.DOI: 10.17521/cjpe.2019.0163

Special Issue: 全球变化与生态系统

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Ecological impacts of nitrogen deposition on terrestrial ecosystems: research progresses and prospects

FU Wei1,2, WU Hui1,2, ZHAO Ai-Hua1,2, HAO Zhi-Peng1, CHEN Bao-Dong1,2,*()   

  1. 1State Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China
    2University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-06-27 Accepted:2020-03-14 Online:2020-05-20 Published:2020-06-23
  • Contact: CHEN Bao-Dong
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41877050);National Key R&D Program of China(2016YFC0500702)


Due to huge consumption of fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers, substantial amount of anthropogenic reactive nitrogen (N) has been released into the environment. Therefore, N deposition has gradually increased worldwide and become one of the most important issues of global change. China has been a N deposition hotspot, and N deposition is projected to last long duration, which poses serious threats to ecosystem stability and functionality. In this synthesis paper, we summarized the impacts of N deposition on aboveground vegetation, soil microorganisms and biogeochemical cycling of major elements (carbon, N and phosphorus) in terrestrial ecosystems by outlining the progresses in the research field during the past 40 years. Results indicate that the accumulation of reactive N compounds induced by N deposition alters the soil environment, ecological stoichiometric balance and species co-occurrence patterns, thereby changing biodiversity and ecosystem functions. The rates, forms and duration of N deposition and the homeostasis of biosystem together with abiotic environments determine the direction and extent of the ecosystem response to N deposition. Through analysing local and foreign studies in this research area, we explore the weaknesses of relevant research that are being conducted in China. To advance the basic research on and risk management of N deposition, we propose the establishment of a N deposition monitoring and research network across the country with consideration of different ecosystems to promote regional and global risk assessments. Future research should highlight the combined multiple factors with N deposition and conduct direct and in-depth mechanism studies.

Key words: nitrogen deposition, ecological impact, biodiversity, soil microorganisms, biogeochemical cycles