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Scientists show that streams are critical to preservation of oceanic coastal zones
Date:3/12/2008

indings published in Nature suggest that as land use changes, and shifts to increasing nitrogen loads occur, that this buffering capacity could be overwhelmed. Nitrogen pollution could generate algal blooms, oxygen depletion (dead zones) and death to coral, fish and shellfish in coastal zones.

Grimm believes that the long-term, collaborative nature of the project supporting this study, which has incorporated two separate experiments each conducted in a range of ecosystems, was key to advancing understanding of stream nitrogen dynamics far beyond what could be accomplished with a single-investigator grant focused on one region.

As a professor in ASUs School of Life Sciences, Grimm is no stranger to long-term collaborative efforts. For the last 10 years she has led the Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-term Ecological Research (CAP-LTER) project centered on the analysis of urban-semi-arid ecosystem relationships. The co-director of CAP-LTER is anthropologist Charles Redman, director of ASUs School of Sustainability.

With her collaborators, Grimm has established a conceptual basis for including human choice and action in theory of urban ecosystem dynamics. Grimm and her counterparts empirical work on biogeochemistry, species distribution and abundance, and designed aquatic ecosystems in cities have revealed that many ecological features are best explained by combinations of social and biophysical drivers. Grimm was also the first to describe nitrogen cycling in desert streams, work that led directly to the long-term collaboration and the experiments described in the Nature article.

The findings published in Nature underscore the critical interplay that exists between human action and ecosystems dynamics and capacity, and emphasizes the management imperative of controlling nitrogen loading to streams and protecting or restoring stream ecosystems to maintain or enhance their nitrogen removal functions.


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Contact: Margaret Coulombe
margaret.coulombe@asu.edu
480-727-8934
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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