Nitrogen pollution is a serious threat to pollinators; make hay not war
In most cases, the undesirable vegetation we battle is only responding to excess nitrogen (N) in the soil. These species are known as “nitrophiles” (Curtis 1959). They dominate more land each year because our soils have become are hypereutrophic with N, at least three times higher over the past century (Galloway ??). The excess soil N comes from two sources: increases in atmospheric N deposition due to nitrogen oxide emissions from the internal combustion engine, and agricultural runoff enriched in ammonia fertilizer for growing corn ethanol. The paradox of N enrichment (>>>>>) is how it causes highly evolved biotic-communities to unravel, and become dominated by weedy-competitive, non-edible, and non-symbiotic species.
Plants that thrive in environments where N is no longer a limiting factor have forgone the need to form complex symbiotic relationships. For example, nitrophiles produce few edible structures, including poor forage, fruits, and because most are wind pollinated, they produce little nectar to feed pollinators. Due to their lack of edibility, the ensuing dominance of nitrophiles over the landscape represents a threat to all herbivores, including pollinators.
In This Series
A Plan For A Better Future: Creating a Unified Pollinator Ecology
Premise 1: Pollinators are grazers
Narrative 2: The most powerful terrestrial ecosystem on earth, the Grazing Lawn
Premise 3: Cool season species are cool too
Premise 4: Decrease grass seeding rates, but increase graminoid diversity
Premise 5: Functional groups, niche theory, and seed mix design
Premise 6: Relax the current punitive genotype restrictions
Premise 7: High density patch planting
Premise 8: Nitrogen pollution is a serious threat to pollinators
Premise 9: Make hay, not war
Premise 9: More pollinator habitat through more frequent fire.
Premise 10: Afforestation, an unknown but significant threat to pollinator survival