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

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  • Rebecca M. McKenzie
  • Mustafa Z. Özel
  • J. Neil Cape
  • Julia Drewer
  • Kerry J. Dinsmore
  • Eiko Nemitz
  • Y. Sim Tang
  • Netty Van Dijk
  • Margaret Anderson
  • Jacqueline F. Hamilton
  • Mark A. Sutton
  • Martin W. Gallagher
  • Ute Skiba


Publication details

DateAccepted/In press - 29 Mar 2016
DatePublished (current) - 21 Apr 2016
Issue number8
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)2353-2365
Original languageEnglish


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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© Author(s) 2016.


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