Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 13, issue 8
Biogeosciences, 13, 2353–2365, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-2353-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 13, 2353–2365, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-2353-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 21 Apr 2016

Research article | 21 Apr 2016

The import and export of organic nitrogen species at a Scottish ombrotrophic peatland

Rebecca M. McKenzie1,2, Mustafa Z. Özel3, J. Neil Cape1, Julia Drewer1, Kerry J. Dinsmore1, Eiko Nemitz1, Y. Sim Tang1, Netty van Dijk1, Margaret Anderson1, Jacqueline F. Hamilton3, Mark A. Sutton1, Martin W. Gallagher2, and Ute Skiba1 Rebecca M. McKenzie et al.
  • 1Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Edinburgh, Bush Estate, Penicuik, EH26 0QB, UK
  • 2School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, The University of Manchester, Williamson Building, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
  • 3Department of Chemistry, The University of York, York, YO10 5DD, UK

Abstract. Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) contributes significantly to the overall nitrogen budget, but is not routinely measured in precipitation or stream water. In order to investigate the contribution of DON to the deposition and export of N, precipitation, stream and soil water samples were collected from an ombrotrophic peatland and analysed for DON over a 2-year period. In wet-only deposition DON contributed up to 10 % of the total dissolved nitrogen (TDN) and was the most dominant fraction in soil water (99 %) and stream water (75 %). NH4+ was the most dominate form of N in precipitation, with NO3 contributing the least to precipitation, soil water and stream water.

Precipitation and stream DON were qualitatively analysed by a two-dimensional gas chromatograph coupled to a nitrogen chemiluminescence detector (GC × GC-NCD) after trapping onto C18 solid phase extraction (SPE) cartridges. Ten unique compounds were detected and five identified as pyrrole, benzonitrile, dodecylamine, N-nitrosodipropylamine and decylamine. Five compounds were present in both precipitation and stream samples: pyrrole, benzonitrile and three unidentified compounds. The SPE-extraction efficiency for DON was very low (11 %), but with improvements DON speciation could become a valuable tool to provide information on its sources and pathways and inform chemical transport models.

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Short summary
Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) contributes significantly to the overall nitrogen budget and can potentially be biologically available as a source of N. Despite this it is not routinely measured. This study found that DON contributed up to 10 % of the total dissolved nitrogen (TDN) found in precipitation and was the most dominant fraction in soil water (99 %) and stream water (75 %).
Dissolved organic nitrogen (DON) contributes significantly to the overall nitrogen budget and...
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