A transect of 68 acid grasslands across Great Britain, covering the lower range of ambient annual nitrogen deposition in the industrialized world (5 to 35 kg Nha-1 year-1), indicates that long-term, chronic nitrogen deposition has significantly reduced plant species richness. Species richness declines as a linear function of the rate of inorganic nitrogen deposition, with a reduction of one species per 4-m2 quadrat for every 2.5 kg Nha-1 year-1 of chronic nitrogen deposition. Species adapted to infertile conditions are systematically reduced at high nitrogen deposition. At the mean chronic nitrogen deposition rate of central Europe (17 kg Nha-1 year-1), there is a 23% species reduction compared with grasslands receiving the lowest levels of nitrogen deposition.
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