Nitrogen pollution and the meltdown of urban ecosystems

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Urban ecosystems are carrying an extinction debt. Mitigating this debt will require the development of a predictive framework that improves our understanding of the factors causing decline of native biodiversity in urban areas. I argue that nitrogen is a common currency around which such a predictive framework could be built. I first summarise the evidence that shows the probable extent of nitrogen enrichment in urban ecosystems. I then review the body of empirical evidence that describes how nitrogen enrichment affects ecosystem process and function. By unifying these two bodies of empirical evidence, I generate a series of testable hypotheses that may allow for a better understanding of native biodiversity loss in urban areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Biodiversity
  • Competition
  • Eutrophication
  • Extinction
  • Herbivory
  • Nitrogen
  • Urban ecology


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