Effects of Nitrogen Deposition on the Abundance and Metabolism of Lichens: A Meta-analysis
Lichens are the key to nutrient cycling and trophic networks in many terrestrial ecosystems and are good bioindicators of air pollution, including nitrogen (N) deposition. Experimental studies have shown that N deposition can reduce the abundance of lichens and alter their thallus chemistry and metabolism, but we currently lack information about how widespread this effect is and what are the environmental factors modulating the response of lichens to N. We carried out a meta-analysis of the literature about the effects of experimental N fertilization on lichen abundance and metabolism. We found thirty-nine articles from thirty-one experimental sites that met our search criteria. These studies showed that the addition of N accelerates lichen metabolism in the short term and decreases their abundance in the medium–long term. Early senescence of lichens is proposed as a possible mechanism linking the two observed responses. Chlorolichens from regions with high precipitation (> 1000 mm) and with a background N deposition of mixed origin (agricultural and industrial) were the most affected by N, in terms of both abundance and metabolism. Structural equation modelling showed that the rate of N addition was the main factor in modulating the response of lichens to N in terms of metabolism, whereas isothermality played a very important role in modulating the lichen response to N in terms of abundance. Our meta-analysis identified that excess N deposition reduces lichen abundance and increases the metabolism of sensitive species, especially across European ecosystems; lichens from more climatically benign regions (that is, greater precipitation and isothermality) are the most affected.
KeywordsGlobal change Lichens Meta-analysis Nitrogen deposition Nitrogen fertilization Structural equations models (SEM)
ROH initiated this study being funded by a Juan de la Cierva-Incorporación Fellowship (JCI-2014-21252) from MINECO and finished it with the support of a Ramón y Cajal Fellowship (RYC-2017-22032) from MICIU. All data used in this study can be accessed from Ochoa-Hueso and Gutierrez-Larruga (2019). https://figshare.com/articles/Effects_of_nitrogen_deposition_on_the_abundance_and_metabolism_of_lichens_A_meta-analysis/9211502.
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Conflict of interest
Authors declare no conflict of interest.
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