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New Pathways

Research at Luquillo LTER led to the discovery of DNRA and Feammox, novel pathways for nitrogen loss from terrestrial ecosystems. Understanding these pathways will help scientists predict the sources and magnitudes of greenhouse gas emissions and how human activities, such as irrigation and fertilization, affect water and air quality in tropical regions.

Templer, P. M., W. L. Silver, J. Pett-Ridge, and M. K. Firestone. 2008. Plant and microbial controls on nitrogen retention and loss in tropical forest soils. Ecology 89:3030-3040.
Silver, W.L., D. J. Herman, and M. K. Firestone. 2001. Dissimilatory nitrate reduction to ammonium in tropical forest soils. Ecology 82:2410-2416.
Silver, W. L., A. W. Thompson, M. K. Firestone, A. Reich, and J. J. Ewel. 2005. Nitrogen retention and loss in tropical plantations and old growth forests. Ecological Applications 15:1604-1614.
Yang, W. H., K. A. Weber, and W. L. Silver. 2012. Nitrogen loss from soil via anaerobic ammonium oxidation coupled to iron reduction. Nature GeoScience 5: 538-541.
Dr. Whendee L. Silver
A researcher extracting a gas sample from soil in tropical forest at El Verde, Puerto Rico, site of the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research Program.
The Feammox pathway: the conversion of ammonium (NH4+, a key plant nutrient) to inert dinitrogen gas (N2, the main constituent of the atmosphere) or other nitrogen forms under anaerobic conditions. The Feammox pathway uses iron oxides (Fe), which are abundant in many soils.

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