Atmospheric concentrations of ammonia and nitrogen dioxide at a tropical coral cay with high seabird density

Schmidt, Susanne, Mackintosh, Katrina, Gillett, Rob, Pudmenzky, Alex, Allen, Diane E., Rennenberg, Heinz and Mueller, Jochen F. (2010) Atmospheric concentrations of ammonia and nitrogen dioxide at a tropical coral cay with high seabird density. Journal of Environmental Monitoring, 12 2: 460-465. doi:10.1039/b910922f

Author Schmidt, Susanne
Mackintosh, Katrina
Gillett, Rob
Pudmenzky, Alex
Allen, Diane E.
Rennenberg, Heinz
Mueller, Jochen F.
Title Atmospheric concentrations of ammonia and nitrogen dioxide at a tropical coral cay with high seabird density
Journal name Journal of Environmental Monitoring   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1464-0325
Publication date 2010
Year available 2009
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1039/b910922f
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 12
Issue 2
Start page 460
End page 465
Total pages 6
Editor Harp Minhas
Place of publication Cambridge, U.K.
Publisher Royal Society of Chemistry
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
960104 Marine Air Quality
050206 Environmental Monitoring
Formatted abstract
Ecosystems with high seabird densities can receive extremely high inputs of nitrogen (N) from bird guano. Seabirds deposit up to 1000 kg N ha(-1) y(-1) on Heron Island, a tropical coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef. We quantified atmospheric concentrations of ammonia (NH(3)) and nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)) with passive air samplers at beach, woodland and forest along a gradient of low, intermediate and high bird densities, respectively. NO(2) concentrations at all studied sites were generally low (average 0.2-2.3 microg NO(2) m(-3)) and similar to other ecosystems. An exception was the main traffic zone of helicopter and barge traffic which had elevated concentrations (average 6.2, maximum 25 microg NO(2) m(-3)) comparable to traffic-intense urban areas elsewhere. Increasing average NH(3) concentrations from 0.7 to 17 microg NH(3) m(-3) was associated with greater seabird nesting density. In areas of intermediate and high bird density, NH(3) concentrations were substantially higher than those typically detected in natural and agricultural systems, supporting the notion that seabird guano is a major source of NH(3). The steep decline of NH(3) concentrations in areas with low bird density indicates that trans-island transport of NH(3) is low. NH(3) may not only be re-deposited in close vicinity of the source but is also transported vertically as concentrations above the tree canopy averaged 7.5 microg NH(3) m(-3). How much guano-derived NH(3) contributes to reefal waters via the possible transfer path water --> land --> water remains to be established. We discuss atmospheric concentrations of NH(3) and NO(2) in context of N-based gaseous pollutants and effects on vegetation.
© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2010

Keyword Great Barrier Reef (Qld.)
Passive diffusion samplers
Heron Island
Southern Ocean
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes First published as an Advance Article on the web 12th November 2009

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Created: Sun, 28 Feb 2010, 00:03:54 EST