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  • 1.
    Andersen, Emil Alexander Sherman
    et al.
    Center for Permafrost (CENPERM), Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark; Terrestrial Ecology Section, Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
    Michelsen, Anders
    Fenger-Nielsen, Rasmus
    Hollesen, Jørgen
    Ambus, Per Lennart
    Elberling, Bo
    Nitrogen isotopes reveal high N retention in plants and soil of old Norse and Inuit deposits along a wet-dry arctic fjord transect in Greenland2020In: Plant and Soil, ISSN 0032-079X, E-ISSN 1573-5036, Vol. 455, no 1-2, p. 241-255Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Aims: Plant growth in the Arctic is often nutrient limited due to temperature constraints on decomposition and low atmospheric input of nitrogen (N). Local hotspots of nutrient enrichment found in up to 4000-year-old archaeological deposits can be used to explore the recycling and long-term retention of nutrients in arctic ecosystems.

    Methods: We investigated old Inuit and Norse deposits (known as middens) and adjacent tundra ecosystems along a wet-dry fjord gradient in western Greenland to explore the isotopic fingerprinting of plant and soil carbon and nitrogen (C-13/C-12 and(15)N/N-14) derived from human presence.

    Results: At all locations we observed a significant isotopic fingerprint in soil and plant N related to human deposits. This demonstrates a century-long legacy of past human habitation on plant and soil characteristics and indicates a surprisingly high N retention in these ecosystems. This is consistent with the significantly higher plant biomass in areas with archaeological deposits.

    Conclusion: Vegetation composition and N in plants and soils displayed marked differences along the wet-dry fjord gradient. Furthermore, the profound nutrient enrichment and organic matter accumulation in archaeological deposits compared to surrounding tundra demonstrates a century-long legacy of past habitation on plant and soil characteristics as well as efficient N cycling with surprisingly limited N loss.

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