High-elevation species still struggling
Rocks and sediments bind up almost 98 percent of all nitrogen. The remaining 2 percent is in motion, part of a global chemical cycle that includes humans, bacteria, plants, and the atmosphere.
“Plants need nitrogen to grow,” says U.S. Forest Service research ecologist Steve McNulty. “However, excess nitrogen can harm plants.”
Nitrogen and sulfur can combine with oxygen to form nitrogen or sulfur oxides. These compounds become part of the atmosphere, where they react with water vapor and other elements. Eventually, the nitrogen and sulfur – now in the form of nitric and sulfuric acid – fall to the ground with the rain drops.
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