Monday, January 28, 2008

Fish and the nitrogen deficit

Nitrogen plays a poorly understood role in a number of climate risks. At least, I don't understand the intricacies. Fertilizer run-off is a big eco-negative from many of our agriculture practices, leading to coastal deadzones and worse. And now, the global nitrogen cycle appears that even more complicated than anyone thought. From Terra Daily: Like bank accounts, the nutrient cycles that influence the natural world are regulated by inputs and outputs. If a routine withdrawal is overlooked, balance sheets become inaccurate. Over time, overlooked deductions can undermine our ability to understand and manage ecological systems.

Recent research by the Universite de Montreal (Canada) and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies (Millbrook, New York) has revealed an important, but seldom accounted for, withdrawal in the global nitrogen cycle: commercial fisheries. Results, published as the cover story in the February issue of Nature Geoscience, highlight the role that fisheries play in removing nitrogen from coastal oceans....

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