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Erle Ellis: Research Projects: 1993 - 1997

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Nitrogen Cycling and Ecological Sustainability in Village Scale Ecosystems

in China


This project compared nitrogen (N) cycling in traditional, N-limited village ecosystems with those of contemporary, N-saturated village ecosystems to investigate the ecological basis for high long-term productivity in China's Tai Lake Region.  We integrate direct field measurements with data from other sources to parameterize descriptive models of village-scale N flow and storage at the landscape and trophic levels.  Using Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis we provide evidence for ecologically-unsustainable changes in N cycling patterns caused by changes in village land use, altered management of wastes and canal sediments, and the overapplication of chemical fertilizers.  By studying N cycling at the village scale in systems with proven ecological sustainability, we can observe long-term relationships between human population density, productivity and pollution.



Supported by the US National Science Foundation under grant DEB - 9303261 awarded in 1993 and grant OISE - 9523944 awarded in 1995.  Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Note: The original project website was on: agroecology.org (deleted in 2007)