Plant nitrogen concentration and isotopic composition in residential lawns across seven US cities.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Human drivers are often proposed to be stronger than biophysical drivers in influencing ecosystem structure and function in highly urbanized areas. In residential land cover, private yards are influenced by individual homeowner preferences and actions while also experiencing large-scale human and biophysical drivers. We studied plant nitrogen (%N) and N stable isotopic composition (δ(15)N) in residential yards and paired native ecosystems in seven cities across the US that span major ecological biomes and climatic regions: Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City. We found that residential lawns in three cities had enriched plant δ(15)N (P < 0.03) and in six cities higher plant N (%) relative to the associated native ecosystems (P < 0.05). Plant δ(15)N was progressively depleted across a gradient of urban density classes in Baltimore and Boston (P < 0.05). Lawn fertilization was associated with depleted plant δ(15)N in Boston and Los Angeles (P < 0.05), and organic fertilizer additions were associated with enriched plant δ(15)N in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City (P < 0.04). Plant δ(15)N was significantly enriched as a function of housing age in Baltimore (r (2) = 0.27, P < 0.02), Boston (r (2) = 0.27, P < 0.01), and Los Angeles (r (2) = 0.34, P < 0.01). These patterns in plant δ(15)N and plant N (%) across these cities suggests that N sources to lawns, as well as greater rates of N cycling combined with subsequent N losses, may be important drivers of plant N dynamics in lawn ecosystems at the national scale.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Trammell, TLE; Pataki, DE; Cavender-Bares, J; Groffman, PM; Hall, SJ; Heffernan, JB; Hobbie, SE; Morse, JL; Neill, C; Nelson, KC

Published Date

  • May 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 181 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 271 - 285

PubMed ID

  • 26846313

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1432-1939

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0029-8549

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00442-016-3566-9


  • eng